Japan nuclear disaster: Gov. Quinn to ask Exelon to fund more state nuclear plant inspections

SHARE Japan nuclear disaster: Gov. Quinn to ask Exelon to fund more state nuclear plant inspections

Updated 5:19 p.m. cst with Exelon statement

WASHINGTON–Illinois has the most nuclear power plants in the nation and Japan’s nuclear plant meltdown is prompting Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn on Thursday to call for higher fees from Exelon to pay for more inspections.

Quinn told reporters from seven Illinois news outlets he wants Exelon Corp., the company operating 11 nuclear reactors in Illinois on six sites to kick in more money for more safeguards.

“We are going to seek from the General Assembly higher fees,” from Exelon, Quinn said, “to make sure that our Emergency Management Agency has everything it needs to do its safety review job.”

Illinois already conducts its own independent safety inspections–in addition to federal government inspections–but Quinn said “from the moment” he heard about the Japanese nuclear crisis, he wanted to review Illinois readiness–whether for a tornado, flood or other disaster.

Quinn met Wednesday with Jonathan Monken, the director of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency and his deputy, Joe Klinger.

“Under these circumstances, we need to review everything in our agency,” Quinn said.

Quinn said he already had asked the Illinois General Assembly for a two percent increase for inspections, and that request is pending before the legislature. The base flat fee Exelon has been paying has not been increased in more than eight years, Quinn said. Exelon has been “barking about” the two percent increase, Quinn said.

Now that two percent might not be “sufficient” as the events in Japan served as a “wake up call.” Quinn said he does not want to be held to that number. “We may seek a higher number,” as lessons learned from the Japanese nuclear crisis become apparent.

“Everybody in the world has to study what happened…and I don’t want to come in with a fee that we ultimately decide has to be higher,” Quinn said.

Exelon said in a statement, “While our plants are safe, we can appreciate the Governor’s concerns about the Japan disaster, and we will be discussing the issue with the administration.”

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