Company, State at Odds Over Terms for Nuclear Reactor

A state agency says it needs more time to respond to objections over conditions for a third reactor at Calvert Cliffs.
A state agency says it needs more time to respond to objections over conditions for a third reactor at Calvert Cliffs. (By Mark Gail -- The Washington Post)
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By Christy Goodman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, August 14, 2008

UniStar Nuclear Energy and state officials are in a dispute about new conditions the state wants to impose for building a third reactor at the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant.

The state's Power Plant Research Program filed testimony Monday saying that it needs more time to respond to objections by UniStar, the company that would operate the new reactor, to conditions that the state recently added for awarding a certificate of public convenience and necessity.

The certificate is required to build the proposed nuclear reactor, which could nearly double the Lusby plant's energy-generating capacity. The research program works with state agencies to conduct technical reviews of power plant licenses.

UniStar has "filed a massive amount of material. We've tried circulating" it to all of the state's Cabinet secretaries, said M. Brent Hare, an assistant state attorney general representing the research program, at evidentiary hearings held this week in Southern Maryland by the Maryland Public Service Commission.

UniStar is requesting changes in the state's newest conditions dealing with water permits, traffic mitigation, design and environmental standards, and ecological concerns. The research program conducted a six-week analysis before submitting the updated conditions last month.

George Vanderheyden, president and chief executive of UniStar, said the company is frequently receiving new information about the design of the reactor and other issues, which then must be submitted to state and federal agencies.

"They, nor we, have time to adopt and adjust to all of that," Vanderheyden said at a public hearing Monday. "This is the first large baseload power plant . . . that has been built in Maryland for 30 years," he said. The standard for smaller power plants "doesn't work for something that takes six years of licensing."

UniStar is asking the state to delete a condition designed to minimize harm to the American oyster. Paul C. Myers, a consulting ecologist, said that during the 1968 construction of the reactors at Calvert Cliffs, Baltimore Gas and Electric was given permission to move a large portion of the Flag Pond Oyster Bar in the Chesapeake Bay to another oyster bar and pay $200,000 in mitigation costs.

"The mitigated portion of the [Flag Pond] Oyster Bar was slated for closure and removal from the state resource maps," said Myers, adding that a recent study showed a low oyster population for the area.

However, state officials said the Maryland General Assembly passed a law in the 1980s that formally identified and mapped the Flag Pond Oyster Bar. In its latest set of conditions, the state wants UniStar to dredge to minimize harm to the oysters in that area or apply to the Department of Natural Resources for a waiver.

Hare said the state objects to some of UniStar's proposed changes to the new conditions. The two parties plan to meet to try to reach a compromise, which would be filed with the Public Service Commission.


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