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Senator Bush, local leaders push for nuclear waste fees

ZION – Illinois State Senator Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake) met with local leaders in Zion this month to discuss the site of the decommissioned Zion Nuclear Power Station, owned by Exelon, which closed in 1998, according to a news release.

The facility stores spent nuclear fuel from the plant and is currently undergoing a long decommissioning process.

"Cities should have the power to collect an impact fee if a company stores their nuclear waste in their community," Bush said. "Zion was a partner in welcoming the nuclear plant, but now that the plant and jobs are gone, the utility company needs to be a good neighbor and a positive force in the community."

Bush said she wants to give local governments the ability to hold companies accountable for the impact of leaving nuclear waste behind.

In the wake of the plant's closure, Zion lost about 55 percent of property tax revenue, and redevelopment is limited with the land's use as a waste disposal site, the release stated.

Chris Clark, superintendent of the Zion-Benton Township High School District, said the "dramatic loss" of equalized assessed valuation has "driven the Zion tax rate significantly higher as more of the tax burden is pushed on to residential properties."

"Property values have reached an all-time low," Clark said. "The fact that Zion has become a long-term storage facility for spent fuel and the inability of Zion to utilize prime lake front real estate for redevelopment have greatly hindered the community's recovery."

David Knabel, chief financial officer for the city of Zion, said the plant's closure lowered local property tax revenues by nearly $20 million.

A nuclear disposal impact fee will help offset the impact to the residents and businesses and repair damage done to the area, Knabel said in a statement issued by the city.

This legislation, Senate Bill 544, awaits a vote in the Illinois Senate.

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