Illinois Senate votes to overturn nuclear ban

16 March 2010

The Illinois state Senate has voted overwhelmingly to remove a 23-year-old moratorium on the construction of new nuclear power plants in the state. However, the bill stills need to be approved by the House.


The Senate voted 40-1 in favour of a bill (SB3388) amending Illinois' Public Utilities Act of 1987. The amendment would remove a clause stating that utilities cannot construct new nuclear power stations in the state. It would also remove a requirement that the US federal government "has identified and approved a demonstrable technology or means for the disposal of high-level nuclear waste" before the any state approvals can be issued for nuclear new build.


Illinois imposed a moratorium on new nuclear plant construction in 1987 until a permanent site to store radioactive waste had been completed. Yucca Mountain in Nevada had been selected as the site of a national radioactive waste repository, but earlier this year President Barack Obama's administration dropped the plan.


Senator Mike Jacobs, who sponsored the bill, told the Chicago Sun Times, "The mood towards nuclear energy has cooled, and people aren't as wary of it as they used to be." He added, "It's proven itself to be a very safe clean technology."


The bill will now be passed on to the full Illinois House for debate.


Currently, Illinois' 12 operating nuclear power reactors generate almost 48% of the state's electricity, with a comparable amount generated by coal-fired plants. The units - all owned by Exelon - are at six plant sites: Braidwood, Byron, Clinton, Dresden, LaSalle and Quad Cities.


Exelon has announced plans to construct at least one new reactor at its Clinton nuclear power plant in central Illinois. In March 2007, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) issued Exelon with an early site permit (ESP) for the Clinton plant.


Researched and written

by World Nuclear News