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Governor Quinn Signs Legislation to Boost State’s Nuclear Safety Program

SPRINGFIELD–(ENEWSPF)–July 25, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn today announced the signing of legislation that will bolster Illinois’ world-class nuclear safety program. The new law increases fees paid by Exelon to fund upgrades to remote monitoring systems at each reactor site, hire additional nuclear safety experts and update vital nuclear safety equipment.

“Illinois continues to be a national leader in nuclear safety,” said Governor Quinn. “After reviewing Illinois’ nuclear safety programs, we have identified needs for updated equipment, as well as increased personnel in several key areas. This investment will further strengthen that program, and ensure Illinois continues to lead the nation with the best nuclear safety program.”

Governor Quinn proposed and led passage of House Bill 1723, which was sponsored by Rep. Thomas Holbrook (D-Belleville) and Sen. Dave Koehler (D-Peoria), to ensure the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) has adequate resources to operate the state’s nationally-recognized nuclear safety program. Eleven nuclear reactors currently operate in six locations in Illinois. The new law increases fees paid by Exelon, which operates all 11 reactors, to support upgrades to IEMA’s Remote Monitoring System (RMS) and specialized response equipment, and increases the agency’s staff of nuclear safety experts.

Illinois’ annual per-reactor fee has been $1.75 million since 2003. House Bill 1723 increases that fee to $1.9 million per reactor, providing an additional $1.6 million annually to support Illinois’ nuclear safety programs, with no additional consumer costs attached to the legislation. The new funds will enable IEMA to fill approximately 12 staff positions, including nuclear safety scientists, health physicists, computer experts and lab assistants.

The legislation also includes a one-time capital infrastructure fee of $3.6 million to be paid over three years for a major upgrade of the computer system that supports Illinois’ unique RMS and other essential safety equipment. The RMS collects critical data from inside and around each reactor plant and transmits that information to IEMA’s Radiological Emergency Assessment Center in Springfield. During an incident at a nuclear plant, the information would be analyzed by IEMA’s reactor and environmental analysts in order to develop action recommendations to protect the public.

“This investment will enable us to modernize technology and critical components of our Remote Monitoring System, which will ensure that we continue to receive the independent, real-time information that is essential for protecting public safety and the environment,” said IEMA Director Jonathon Monken.

More information about the RMS and IEMA’s other nuclear power plant monitoring and emergency response programs is available on IEMA’s website at www.iema.illinois.gov.

Source: illinois.gov

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