Illinois reactors are a waste

Braidwood npp_NRC

Stop repeal of nuclear moratorium

From Nuclear Energy Information Service: Illinois has more reactors and high-level radioactive waste than any other state. 11 reactors currently operate; 3 have been closed/decommissioned. To date, all of these reactors have created over 11,000 tons of highly radioactive and dangerous “spent-fuel” wastes, which are currently all stored onsite at the reactors.

According to law, the Federal Government was supposed to have created a permanent disposal repository for the spent-fuel by 1997.  It failed to do so; and therefore all spent-fuel is being stored at reactor sites until a disposal facility is operating.

In the 1970s, environmental groups succeeded in passing a common-sense law regarding these wastes, which simply states that you won’t be allowed to build more waste-producing reactors until you have demonstrated the existence of a disposal place to send your waste to.  That law remains in effect, and currently applies to Exelon/Constellation’s commercial power reactors only.

ComEd/Exelon and nuclear proponents have frequently in the past attempted to repeal this construction moratorium, and have failed each time.

But now, Rep. Mark L. Walker (D,  53rd District) of Arlington Heights has introduced a bill —  HB5589  — which would repeal a provision of the Public Utilities Act that currently prohibits construction of any new nuclear power reactor in Illinois until the Federal Government has opened and operates a high-level radioactive waste facility for permanent disposal of the deadly high-level radioactive wastes the reactors produce.

At a time when Exelon’s newly created Constellation Energy LLC is inheriting a string of money losing reactors, and Exelon has reaped over $3 billion in ratepayer funded bailouts over the last 5 years to make up for its losses, opening the potential for building more money-losing reactors financed at consumer expense is intolerable.

The potential implications of this repeal are numerous and all negative:

  • The current Illinois reactors are declared so uncompetitive by Exelon/Constellation (the new Exelon “spin-off” company) that they have required over $3.0 BILLION in ratepayer funded bailouts from the State over the past 5 years.  If more are built, they too will likely be deemed uncompetitive and require future bailouts.
  • Adding more nuclear capacity to the Midwest energy market will crowd out market share for new renewables, delaying their implementation even more.
  • The nuclear industry and its political allies generally, and Exelon Constellation specifically all claim nuclear power is “needed” to combat the Climate Code Red we are facing, and so have been assiduously doing all they can to get reactors legally classified as “green” power, “emissions free”, etc., into state and federal laws, so that nuclear reactors will be eligible to any funds designated using those terms – terms usually reserved for renewable energy resources and efficiency. Any old and new reactors defined in this way would be eligible to drain those funding pools, too. (NEIS and many in the environmental community nationwide dispute the industry’s claims of nuclear being a climate necessity.)
  • Plans to promote and build so-called “small modular nuclear reactors” (SMNRs) are another nuclear industry, Bill Gates and Biden Administration boondoggle. One such “demonstration” project is being proposed for University of Illinois’ Urbana-Champaign campus. If these SMNRs get fast-tracked licensed by the Federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), they could conceivably be built at existing reactor sites, potentially by-passing critically important environmental reviews required for the existing reactors.  This is a potential safety threat to reactor communities, and the State as a whole. And if they too become uneconomic, they would be candidates for even more ratepayer funded bailouts.

If you live in Illinois, please contact NEIS to learn how you can act to oppose this bill.

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