Proposal would give millions to cities storing nuclear waste via Chicago Tribune

A bill that could provide millions of dollars annually to cities throughout the country storing nuclear waste had its beginning in Zion.

U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth D-Ill., and U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider, D-Deerfield, spoke Sunday in Hosea Park to announce the proposed STRANDED (Sensible, Timely Relief for America’s Nuclear Districts’ Economic Development) Act, federal legislation which they said was developed with the help of Zion Mayor Al Hill.


The bicameral bill will be introduced by Schneider in the House and Duckworth in the Senate, and would pay communities storing nuclear waste $15 per kilogram annually. Currently, Zion has 1,020 metric tons of waste stored on its lakefront from the closed nuclear plant, which operated from 1973 to 1998. That would mean Zion would get more than $15 million a year under the proposal.

“Zion, simply put, is stranded,” Duckworth said.

Hill referred to the potential economic value of the lakefront property were it not for the waste.

“The 300-pound gorilla along the lakefront are the spent fuel rods which single-handedly prohibits future development of the site, and robs the Zion area of dollars, jobs and economic vitality,” Hill said.

In addition to the payments, the bill would commission a study by the Department of Energy to consider other options for land with stranded nuclear waste, a task force for such communities to help them find grants, tax credits for new homebuyers in those communities and business incentives for new companies to open in those communities.


According to Zion Director of Finance David Knabel, the total of federal payments to such cities effected by the STRANDED bill annually would be $94 million.

When the ComEd plant closed in 1998, Zion lost $19.5 million per year in property taxes, Knabel said. Currently Exelon, which bought ComEd, pays about $500,000 in taxes annually to Zion.

That loss of tax dollars, along with he inability to develop the lakefront, Knabel said, has caused Zion’s property tax to skyrocket to make up the difference. Currently the tax rate in Zion is 19.96 percent. This has caused homeowners to flee the city, driving property values down and resulting in Zion having a population composed of 60 percent renters.

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