Careful Studies of 3rd Nuclear Reactor Urged

By Christy Goodman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, March 23, 2008

More than 50 people commented last week on proposed safety and environmental studies related to a third reactor at Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant.

During afternoon and evening sessions Wednesday at the Holiday Inn Select in Solomons, local elected officials and area residents asked the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to carefully review the plans for a proposed new reactor at the Lusby plant.

Several elected officials and Southern Maryland business leaders voiced their support of another reactor, saying it would boost Calvert County's economic base, promote job growth and stem rising energy costs.

The two reactors at Calvert Cliffs have been operating since the mid-1970s. "I think 30 years of outstanding service certainly has to count for something," Calvert County Commissioner Linda L. Kelley (R-At Large) said.

If constructed, the reactor would have a generation output of about 1,600 megawatts, nearly equaling the generating capacity of the older reactors at Calvert Cliffs. It would cost at least $4 billion to complete the project, according to estimates from Constellation Energy Group, the plant's owner.

Environmental groups and opponents of an additional reactor urged the NRC and Constellation to ensure the plant is not susceptible to terrorists and seek alternative forms of energy, such as wind power.

Gwen DuBois, a Baltimore resident and member of Physicians for Social Responsibility, told the crowd that Calvert is "taking this burden on for the rest of the state."

Kevin Camps, a member of Beyond Nuclear in Takoma Park, said the plant has the potential to be "Chernobyl on the Chesapeake." He said local officials and Constellation should reconsider their support for the project.

George Vanderheyden, president and chief executive of UniStar, a Constellation company that has applied for the license to construct the reactor, said it would be "able to take a hit from a jumbo aircraft" without posing a radiation hazard. He also vowed that UniStar and Constellation would answer all public inquiries about the project.

The public comment sessions were intended to help regulatory officials define the scope of an environmental impact study. The draft study is expected to take a year to complete. The public can continue to submit comments on the study's scope until April 14.

Comments can be mailed to Chief, Rules and Directives Branch, Division of Administrative Services, Mailstop T6-D59, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, D.C. 20555-0001; e-mailed to CalvertCliffs.COLAEIS@nrc.gov; or delivered in person to 11545 Rockville Pike in Rockville.

Constellation has not made a final decision to build the reactor, said Maureen Brown, a company spokeswoman. She also said the reactor, if built, would not address state electricity shortages that some in the industry have predicted by 2011, because the reactor would not be running until 2015.

As part of its public information effort, the utility company recently distributed about 37,000 copies of its new Neighbor to Neighbor community newsletter to all Calvert residents. The company spent $10,000 on postage alone for the first edition of the newsletter.

The publication aims to explain some of the power plant's community and environmental initiatives and includes a postage-paid blank letter for residents to use to send in thoughts and questions. An e-mail address, Neighbor2Neighbor@constellation.com, also is listed.

Documents related to the reactor's licensing and construction are at http://www.nrc.gov/reactors/new-licensing/col/calvert-cliffs.html.


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