Small communities can and do achieve national status, but in some cases this status is somewhat negative or directly damaging to a community’s reputation. A city of only 6,000 residents, Braidwood, IL, for instance, figured in the 2007 case against Braidwood Nuclear Generating Station.
That year saw the discovery of radioactive waste leakage from the Exelon-owned nuclear power plant, which provides a significant amount of electricity to the Chicago grid. The government made a settlement of $1.2 million as national outrage against nuclear contamination from the plant reached epic proportions.
Not as severe a case as the Three-Mile Island accident, Braidwood’s case has a continuum. In 2017, the watchdog group Better Government Association found that Braidwood NGS reported no less than 35 incidents of radioactive tritium leaks and spills from the plant since 2007. This time, no broad legal action occurred.
Braidwood NGS remains a major employer and economic resource in the city of Braidwood. Historic Route 66 runs through the area, providing easy access to campers, hikers, and other outdoor sports enthusiasts. Ironically, the natural bounty of this area led to its being the chosen site for Exelon’s nuclear facility.
Outdoor activities are still enjoyed by city residents here as well as visitors from across the state. Local tourism is part of the economy. Coal mines are another part, and they have played an important but ultimately negative role in the development of the place since coal was discovered here in 1864.
Braidwood residents with legal problems have good resources. These include sources of information provided by government and private entities. People here can also access online law libraries, like the one at LegalMatch, a client- attorney matching service for those in urgent need of legal services.
Environmental and watchdog organizations like the Better Government Association either have offices or personnel here, and many can help those with legal problems concerning the environment and government. These services can come for free, although limited to the advocacy focus of these organizations.
Other legal groups that offer their services for free include the Civil Court Clinic for Orders of Protection Pro Bono Advocates and the nearby Chicago Legal Clinic Pro Bono Program. Their clients are typically those unable to afford the services of an attorney.
Despite its nationally-known problems with the nearby nuclear generating station, Braidwood has a better than average livability index compared to other small cities in Illinois.