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Amid Policy Uncertainty, Illinois Sits on Nuclear Waste Amid Policy Uncertainty, Illinois Sits on Nuclear Waste

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Amid Policy Uncertainty, Illinois Sits on Nuclear Waste


As costs for nuclear waste escalate, states like Illinois are stuck with the radioactive material as Washington debates a solution.(SEAN GALLUP/Getty Images)

America still doesn't know where to put its nuclear waste. And while Congress debates the merits of Yucca Mountain and other proposals, that waste is stuck at power plants across the country that weren't designed to store it—leaving Illinois with 13 percent of the country's disposed radioactive material.

Not surprisingly, Illinois has the most nuclear reactors in the country, Bloomberg reports, along with roughly 9,100 metric tons of radioactive waste. Thirty-four other states have been left holding the waste in power plants or closed facilities. Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and New York round out the top nuclear-storage states.


By 2020, one study predicts, taxpayers may be spending as much as $20 billion to cover the liability for the temporary storage. "[T]hese communities were never asked about, and never contemplated or consented to, the conversion of these reactor sites into indefinite long-term storage facilities," said a commission tasked by President Obama last year with finding a solution. Its members included now-Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and now-Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairwoman Allison Macfarlane.

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