By Nancy Harty

CHICAGO (CBS) — An Illinois congressman has proposed legislation to compensate north suburban Zion for it years of storage of nuclear waste at a long-shuttered power plant.

The Zion Nuclear Power Station closed in 1998, but a plan to permanently store nuclear waste from Zion and other nuclear plants at Yucca Mountain in Nevada has stalled, so U.S. Rep. Bob Dold has introduced a plan to reimburse communities like Zion.

“We are, right now, currently storing a significant amount of spent nuclear fuel just a few hundred yards away from the greatest natural resource we have in our area, and that is the Great Lakes,” Dold said.

Under his proposal – which Dold said has bipartisan support – Zion would get $15 million per year for up to seven years to make up for lost property taxes on the site, which still can’t be redeveloped.

“This is not trying to get the communities hooked on the idea of getting federal funds. We want to make sure that we’re compensating them, because of the lack of the tax revenue that they’re able to receive,” he said. “They aren’t able to get the overall tax revenue from the property where it once was. So they’ve seen about a 90 percent decline in their ability to receive tax revenue, which has had an enormous impact on that economy of that community.”

Dold said the money going to Zion and other communities would come from general revenue, not utility fees customers have been paying.

“That was meant to go towards Yucca Mountain, so we’re not touching those funds right now, because we recognize there still needs to be a facility that needs to be created so we can store [nuclear waste],” he said.

The congressman said Exelon still pays property taxes on the Zion site, but there’s a big difference on the property tax bill for a fully-staffed and active power plant and what now is effectively just a nuclear waste storage facility.

Yucca Mountain was identified as a possible site for nuclear waste storage in 1987, but plans to open it have stalled. The Obama administration has said the Yucca Mountain plan is unworkable, and a blue ribbon commission is working to find an alternative solution.

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