May 08, 2020

Duckworth, Schneider Call on Congressional Leadership to Include Aid for Nuclear-Affected Communities in Upcoming COVID-19 Legislation

As states and municipalities face unprecedented financial strain, STRANDED Act would ensure nuclear-affected communities are not left behind


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – As Congress considers additional funding to support the U.S. response to the economic and public health dynamics of the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Congressman Brad Schneider (D-IL-10) called on Congressional leadership to include their legislation to assist nuclear-affected communities. The Sensible, Timely Relief for America's Nuclear Districts' Economic Development (STRANDED) Act would provide financial assistance to the communities around the country shouldering the burden of storing spent nuclear waste.

The next round of COVID-related legislation is expected to include financial assistance for states and municipalities facing emergency fiscal demands and decreasing tax revenue as a result of this national emergency. Communities like Zion, Illinois have served as de facto interim nuclear storage sites for decades and have long faced financial strain as a result.

“Nuclear-affected communities, in particular, have already shouldered the significant financial burden of safely storing our nuclear waste, some for decades. These communities are now also responsible for ensuring that millions of their residents are able to safely shelter in place,” wrote Duckworth and Schneider. “They do so while also operating without expected tax revenues and incurring increased emergency costs related to COVID-19. Communities like Zion, Illinois have long faced extraordinary financial hardship from the burden of storing spent nuclear waste – and now the increased strain from the coronavirus is pushing these communities to the brink.”

Last Congress, Duckworth and Schneider introduced the STRANDED Act, and reintroduced the bill in 2019. This bipartisan legislation would provide nuclear-affected communities with financial assistance based on the amount of nuclear waste is being stored on-site. The bill would provide resources for the federal government to plan for the future of these sites around the country, including establishing a Stranded Nuclear Waste Task Force within the federal government and an Innovation Solutions Prize to support private-sector research.

This follows on efforts by Duckworth and Schneider to help communities with stranded nuclear waste identify available federal resources that was included in appropriations language and signed into law in September 2018.

A copy of today’s signed letter is available online here and below:

May 8, 2020 

Dear Leader McConnell, Leader Schumer, Speaker Pelosi and Leader McCarthy:

We write to urge you to include robust policies that provide assistance for communities housing stranded nuclear waste in the next stimulus package. Specifically, we request that you include the STRANDED Act, a bipartisan and bicameral piece of legislation that would deliver assistance to these communities without delay. These communities have become de facto interim storage sites as Congress and the Nation have failed to deliver a permanent solution for our Nation’s nuclear waste.

We understand that Congress, under your leadership, and the Administration are working together to unite behind a plan that will bring economic security to all Americans. We applaud the bipartisan action Congress has taken to date and believe a critical part of our response efforts will be to provide financial resources directly to State and Local Governments. Nuclear-affected communities have already shouldered the financial burden of safely storing our nuclear waste for decades. These entities are now responsible for ensuring millions of Americans can safely shelter in place while also operating without their expected tax revenue and increased emergency costs related to COVID-19. Communities like Zion, Illinois have long faced financial hardship from the burden of storing spent nuclear waste – the increased strain from the coronavirus is pushing these communities to the brink.

The STRANDED Act will help make these communities whole by establishing a noncompetitive grant program to provide financial assistance to offset the significant economic and social impacts of stranded nuclear waste in affected communities. This money would go to local governments at a rate of $15 for each kilogram of spent nuclear fuel stored in the affected community, consistent with the rate for impact assistance established under the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982. Additionally, the STRANDED Act establishes a Federal task force to identify existing public and private resources and funding that could benefit affected communities and a competition to award prizes to proposals for affected communities to carry out alternatives to nuclear facilities, generating sites and waste sites.

We must provide additional financial support to state and municipal governments and ensure that funding is flexible to meet their diverse needs. Communities across the Nation that have been hit hard by the economic impacts of stranded nuclear waste are now being dealt another blow caused by the COVID-19 crisis. By including the STRANDED Act in the next stimulus package, Congress will help secure the future and prosperity of these communities and enable them to provide the critical government services Americans are relying on right now.

Thank you for your consideration of our request.