Representative Schneider, Senator Duckworth and Mayor Hill announce the STRANDED ActPatch - October 2, 2017 | original article

By Jonah Meadows

Local, state and federal representatives joined Zion Mayor Al Hill Sunday in Hosea Park to announce a new plan to deal with the impact of storing nuclear waste in communities like Zion. U.S. Representative Brad Schneider (D-Deerfield) and Senator Tammy Duckworth announced the Sensible, Timely Relief for America’s Nuclear Districts’ Economic Development (STRANDED) Act, which aims to provide incentives for economic development in places that are storing waste and federal assistance to offset the cost of storage.

The Zion Nuclear Power station operated from 1973 to 1998. There are 1,020 metric tons of nuclear waste from the plant stored on Zion's lakefront. The STRANDED Act would pay $15 per year, per kilogram of nuclear waste to communities storing such waste, meaning Zion could receive $15 million from the program annually.

“Zion and communities like it have been unfairly saddled with storing our nation’s stranded nuclear waste – forced to shoulder the burdens of storage with no compensation in return,” said Schneider. “The federal government needs to make right by these communities. This bill I’m introducing with Sen. Duckworth would bolster Zion’s economic development by finally compensating the city for its storage of the waste, offering tax incentives to encourage private investment and homeownership, and better ensuring access to all available federal resources. Addressing this issue is a matter of basic fairness for the communities paying the price for our government’s failure to find a permanent solution for spent nuclear fuel.”

“For years communities have been forced to house this waste without consent or compensation, despite the immeasurable negative impact to their local economies,” said Duckworth. “Since the federal government has failed to open a permanent repository and it could take years to move the waste after one is agreed upon, the STRANDED Act will help affected areas around the country that are facing hardship now. Zion can’t wait any longer.”

Under the proposal, the Department of Energy would form a task force to identify what development options are available for communities where stranded nuclear waste is being stored. The program would also offer economic impact grants to provide financial assistance to local governments to help offset the cost of stranded nuclear waste. And in addition to the task force and economic impact grants, the new legislation would extend tax credits to include stranded nuclear waste communities to the existing New Markets credit eligibility.

“It’s hard for me to express how much we appreciate the time and effort both Senator Duckworth and Congressman Schneider are devoting to our communities,” said Zion Mayor Al Hill. “The existence of radioactive waste, located on our lakefront, places economic and social burdens on the Zion area that we cannot mitigate ourselves. This legislation will have a long term positive economic impact on Zion and all of our neighbors.”

“Cities with former nuclear power plants should never have to bear the financial burden of keeping up an abandoned facility,” said Illinois State Senator Melinda Bush. “As someone who has fought this battle at the state level for years, I can say firsthand that the City of Zion has incredible allies in Senator Duckworth and Representative Schneider. This legislation could make monumental changes at the federal level.”

Zion city officials told the Chicago Tribune that there would be $94 million in annual payments to towns covered by the bill. When the ComEd plant in Zion closed almost 20 years ago, the town lost about $19.5 million every year in property tax revenue. The decline in tax revenue from the site has led to a sharp rise in property taxes for everyone else, as homeowners have left the city. The property tax rate is Zion is now nearly 20 percent.

Category: In The News

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