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Department of Nuclear Safety - RG 221 | Illinois State Archives

Name: Department of Nuclear Safety - RG 221


Historical Note:

The Boiler Safety Act of 1951 provided state supervision over future nuclear power generating operations. The State Fire Marshal and the Chief Boiler Inspector were charged with formulating rules and regulations regarding the construction, installation, repair, and use of steam generating facilities, including those driven by nuclear power (L. 1951, pp. 2105-2112). An Atomic Power Investigation Commission was formed by the General Assembly in 1955. Composed of three members of the legislature, three from the nuclear power industry, three from labor, and three from the scientific and technological community, all were appointed by the Governor. Additionally the directors of the Department of Health, of the Civil Defense Agency, and of the Department of Public Welfare were ex officio members. The commission was charged with investigating the economic and social impacts that the civilian use of atomic power were anticipated to have on Illinois citizens and report on the same to the Governor and the General Assembly prior to March 1, 1957 (L. 1955, p. 974).

The Department of Public Health was instructed in 1959 to register and inspect facilities where radiation machines were used or where radioactive materials were produced, transported, stored, disposed of, or used for any purpose (L. 1959, p. 1239). The Radiation Protection Act of the same year further defined Department of Public Health duties concerning radiation. It created a Radiation Protection Advisory Council composed of seven public members appointed by the Governor, the directors of the Department of Health and the Department of Labor, and the chairman of the Illinois Commerce Commission. The Department of Public Health provided it administrative support and assisted it in developing comprehensive oversight policies and programs; conducting public hearings and reaching findings; enforcing findings in the state's courts; cooperating with federal, fellow state, and local agencies regarding radiation regulation; conducting research in the areas of control and measurement; disseminating related public health information; reviewing applications for radiation facility installation; inspecting installations; and investigating complaints (L. 1959, pp. 1512-1518).

The Illinois Legislative Commission on Atomic Energy was created by the General Assembly in 1961 to study the economic and social impacts which the peaceful use of atomic energy and radiation might have on Illinois citizens and to explore any other related issues. It was made up of four members of the General Assembly with two from the House appointed by the Speaker and two from the Senate appointed by the Committee on Committees. Seven members were appointed by the Governor. These included two from the nuclear industry, two representing labor, two from related scientific and technological fields, and one from the insurance business. Ex officio members included the directors of the Departments of Public Health, Public Welfare, Agriculture, and Labor, the chairman of the Illinois Commerce Commission, and the director of the Civil Defense Agency (L. 1961, p. 3901). Legislation in 1963 authorized the Department of Public Health to purchase or lease lands, buildings, and grounds where radioactive wastes could be disposed of and to supervise and regulate the operation of such disposal sites (L. 1963, p. 3085). Further in 1967 the Department of Public Health was required to register all operating laser systems in the state and to regulate them (L. 1967, pp. 2914-2917).

The Environmental Protection Act of 1970 created the Pollution Control Board which had among its responsibilities those for issuing permits to build nuclear power plants, conducting public hearings concerning them, limiting radioactive discharges, and adopting such standards for construction and operation which would protect public safety (P.A. 76-2429, pp. 873-898). The Illinois Legislative Commission on Atomic Energy, RG 567.000, was reformed in 1971 as the Illinois Commission on Atomic Energy. It was made up of four General Assembly members, two citizens from the nuclear energy industry, two members representing labor, two from related scientific and technological fields, two from medicine, one from the insurance industry, and one from the legal profession. All were appointed by the Governor. Additionally the directors of the Departments of Public Health, Mental Health, Agriculture, Labor, Law Enforcement, and Business and Economic Development, the chairman of the Illinois Commerce Commission, and the directors of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Civil Defense Agency served as ex officio members. The Department of Public Health again provided support services. The commission was to investigate, support, encourage, and promote those economic, social, health, and technological benefits which nuclear energy could afford Illinois citizens (P.A. 77-1510, pp. 2778-2780).

The Illinois Safety Preparedness Act of 1979 required the nuclear power and waste storage industries to pay fees to offset the Department of Public Health's expenses incurred from regulating those industries and from assessing opportunities for potential accidents, the consequences of potential accidents, and the protective measures which would have to be undertaken to protect the public in the events of accidents (P.A. 81-577, pp. 2281-2284). The Department of Nuclear Safety was created in 1980. This new department took over all of the Department of Public Health's responsibilities as they related to nuclear safety. The Department of Nuclear Safety assumed administrative support services for the Illinois Commission on Atomic Energy and the Radiation Protection Advisory Council. The new department took over also all safety oversight functions at nuclear steam-generating facilities which the State Fire Marshal and the Chief Boiler Inspector had had control. The Pollution Control Board was required to file environmental feasibility reports as they related to the nuclear power industry with the Department of Nuclear Safety (P.A. 81-1560, pp. 3904-3922). The Illinois Emergency Services and Disaster Agency which had been formed in 1975 (P.A. 79-1084, pp. 3320-3343) to coordinate federal, state, and local relief efforts in the event of disasters further was charged with cooperating with the Department of Nuclear Safety in planning for those measures necessary to cope in the event of a large-scale nuclear accident (P.A. 81-1516, p. 3921).






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