Federal lawmakers are proposing new legislation to provide financial and economic assistance to Zion and other towns housing stranded nuclear waste.
The Sensible, Timely Relief for America's Nuclear Districts' Economic Development Act -- or the STRANDED Act -- would establish a task force and create economic impact grants to help offset the burden of storing spent nuclear fuel, according to a news release from U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider's office.
The Deerfield Democrat and U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth introduced the federal legislation Sunday at Hosah Park in Zion.
"Zion and communities like it have been unfairly saddled with storing our nation's stranded nuclear waste ... with no compensation in return," Schneider said. "The federal government needs to make right by these communities."
The Zion Nuclear Power Station closed in 1998 but still stores more than 1,020 metric tons of nuclear waste on its lakefront property.
The plant causes social and economic issues that can't be alleviated by the city alone, Mayor Al Hill said. Lawmakers say it could be years before the government opens and moves the waste to a permanent repository.
"This legislation will have a long-term positive economic impact on Zion and all of our neighbors," Hill said.
In addition to providing compensation, the STRANDED Act would offer tax incentives to encourage private investment in the affected communities, according to Schneider's office. It also allows those towns to be eligible for New Markets tax credits.
"For years communities have been forced to house this waste without consent or compensation, despite the immeasurable negative impact to their local economies," Duckworth said. "The STRANDED Act will help affected areas around the country that are facing hardship now. Zion can't wait any longer."