Lisa Black of the Chicago Tribune wrote a piece on the effects the shutdown Zion plant in Illinois has had on the community:
Ronald Schuster remembers exactly how he felt when he heard the Zion Nuclear Power Station would close, a decision that rocked the community that relied on it for much more than electricity.You don't know what you will miss until it's gone. For more information on the economic benefits of a nuclear plant, click here.
"It was literally like someone got hit in the solar plexus," said Schuster, a radiation-protection safety officer who was herded into a meeting at 8:05 a.m. Jan. 15, 1998, to hear the news.
The plant's closing marked a crushing blow to blue-collar Zion, where it had served as the city's largest employer and taxpayer. Nearly 2,000 out-of-town contractors left town immediately, and the 860 regular full-time workers began looking for new jobs.
Some local businesses saw sales plummet by 25 percent to 30 percent, said Eugene Swindle, who said his auto shop lost up to $6,000 monthly when workers stopped coming in.
Across the street, a new owner of Dunkin' Donuts panicked when shift workers no longer filled the store at midnight, and he returned the store to its previous owner.
"The plant became a way of life in the community," said Mayor Lane Harrison, 57, who grew up in Zion. "We were relying on that one golden goose. ... Everybody was just hoping against hope that they wouldn't close."