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Illinois’ Distinction As State With Most Nuclear Waste Worries Activist

The Exelon Byron Nuclear Generating Station in Byron, Illinois, is one of 17 nuclear reactors at 10 sites in three US states. It is the nation's largest operator of commercial nuclear power plants and third largest in the world. (Photo credit: JEFF HAYNES/AFP/Getty Images)

The Exelon Byron Nuclear Generating Station in Byron, Illinois, is one of 17 nuclear reactors at 10 sites in three US states. It is the nation’s largest operator of commercial nuclear power plants and third largest in the world. (Photo credit: JEFF HAYNES/AFP/Getty Images)

Mike Parker Mike Parker
Mike Parker has been a general assignment reporter for CBS 2 Chicago...
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(CBS) — The state of Illinois now appears to be the nation’s biggest producer of dangerous radioactive waste.

CBS 2’s Mike Parker reports.

There are 70,000 metric tons of potentially deadly nuclear waste stored at both active and inactive nuclear plants in the U.S.

Bloomberg.com reports that Illinois, with its 14 nuclear plant sites, is the country’s biggest atomic dump site.

There are roughly 9,000 tons of “high level, long lived, dangerous spent fuel” in Illinois, according to David Kraft of the Nuclear Energy Information Service, an anti-nuclear group.

That is more nuclear waste than any other state.

Kraft says he is worried about “natural catastrophes like we saw in Japan at Fukushima, terrorists, accidental airliners hitting buildings, or whatever.”

Although the federal government seems to recognize the dangers, critics say Washington can’t seem to decide how and where to move the waste for safe keeping. So it continues to sit in casks and cooling pools at the plants.

Says Kraft: “There’s absolutely nothing inherently safe about a thousand Hiroshimas in a box.”