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Report on Calvert Cliffs Public Meeting

Last night on Solomons Island, Maryland, the NRC held a public meeting concerning adding a third reactor at the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant near Lusby. NEI's JoAnn Sperber was on hand to provide a report.

Calvert Cliffs Plant Neighbors Say 'Yes, In Our Backyard'
Southern Maryland policymakers and business leaders strongly endorsed plans to build a third reactor at Constellation Energy's Calvert Cliffs nuclear power plant during a Nuclear Regulatory Commission meeting last night in Solomons, Md.

Wilson Parran, president of the Calvert County Board of County Commissioners, kicked off the meeting by describing a letter the board had approved earlier that day in support of the plant's expansion. "Some decisions are difficult," he said. "But this one was simple, uncomplicated and easy. Constellation is a great partner. Nuclear energy is clean and reliable. Nuclear energy is critical to our country's energy strategy."

UniStar Nuclear, a consortium that includes Constellation Energy and AREVA, submitted a partial combined construction and operating license application to the NRC last month. The remainder of the application will be filed early next year.

State Delegate Sally Jameson (D) warned the 300 attendees that the United States "is heading for an energy crisis. Conserving energy will help a lot and so will renewables. But we still will have a 20 percent gap. Nuclear energy is a green energy that will help to fill our energy demands."

Several opponents raised questions centering on used fuel, new-plant financing and environmental safety. Diane D'Arrigo of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service, asked: "Where will all the waste go?" An NRC official described the agency's waste confidence policy that a permanent solution, specifically a national used fuel repository, will be the ultimate destination for the material.

But proponents, which include North America Young Generation in Nuclear, continued their endorsements throughout the three-hour meeting. Here's a sampling:
  • "We have had a longstanding positive relationship with Constellation Energy and Calvert Cliffs. We conduct annual drills with them to ensure our state of readiness. ... I am confident they share our commitment to community safety." -- Dr. Robert Schlager of Calvert Memorial Hospital
  • "Calvert Cliffs is a great partner. We train with them and have several different emergency plans that we practice all the time. And we support this [expansion] effort." -- Mike Evans, Calvert County Sheriff
  • "Constellation Energy is an outstanding corporate citizen that pumps millions into the local and state economy." -- Darren Maertens, chairman of the Calvert County Chamber of Commerce.

During an open house preceding the meeting, a longtime resident of Calvert County told me that when he graduated from the local high school in 1955, the principal advised graduates to leave the area. "That's all changed now because of the nuclear power plant. This plant gives us clean energy, good jobs and a strong community."

UPDATE: More from The Washington Post. Thanks to Shop Floor for the pointer.


Anonymous said…
The anti-nooks keeping playing this one-note samba about "what do we do with the waste", and I get the impression that people are just getting tired of it. The facts are that unlike other industries, the nuclear industry has safely managed its waste for going on a half-century now, all the while generating trillions of kwhr-hrs of electricity at reasonable cost and emissions-free with high reliability. Also, we have a plan in place that, if implemented, will allow for long-term management of the waste products. Contrast that with other industries who just dump their waste and walk away, and the anti-nooks whisper nary a word of protest about it.
gunter said…

Actually,you had to be there (because NRC didn't make a transcipt)but the first point that Diane made was on the bungling of industry and government environmental management of this so-called "low-level" nuclear waste. Calvert Cliffs loses its current latrine in Barnwell, SC next year.

Hence the question where is the waste from Units 1 and 2 as well as this hypothetical 3 going to go?

If you were there you heard that in fact neither NRC nor Constellation know who they are going to take a dump on next. They're praying and arm twisting that S.C. will change their mind.

NRC staff answered by suggesting that there is this Low-Level Radioactive Waste Compact. In other words, the states have to go on a very unpopular n-dump hunt as in the 1980's and eventually abandoned because dumps aren't popular. And since all the US dumps are leaking radioactivity into surface and groundwater, including West Valley in Diane's home state of NY, which is leaking into the Great Lakes, is it any wonder?

bvidalin said…

Low Level Nuclear waste is easily manageable, otherwise society will have abandon Radio-Medicine too. Surely you don’t advocate that? How about radioactive fly ash from coal plants, where’s their dump site located?
I see where the NIRS underwent spontaneous fission. Would you like to give us a few words about your new group? New Mission Statement, planning any changes, what happened to NIRS, etc…?

(Oh yea, congrats to Calvert Cliffs, beautiful plant site)!
gunter said…
If LLRW were so easily managed as you say then Calvert Cliffs and a good number of other nuclear power plants using Barnwell would not be looking for new dumps next year.

One of the speakers also noted that Constellation Energy's fly ash dump from its coal fired plants was contaminating groundwater as well.

Both NIRS and Beyond Nuclear were organizationally represented at the event, sharing a literature table and participating with statements and questions during public meeting.

Just as the nuclear industry is circling its wagons for a strategy in an effort to proliferate nuclear power, the antinuclear movement makes its own strategic moves to oppose it. The mission statements of both NIRS and Beyond Nuclear speak clearly for themselves at their perspective websites:

Rod Adams said…
I am quite sorry that I was out of town on Tuesday night. Solomons is an easy drive from my Annapolis home and it would have been interesting to get a chance to engage in the discussion.

Paul, I hope that there are others who recognize that your words are carefully chosen rhetoric designed to extract emotion. Insisting that the waste storage facility in Barnwell is a dump without local support is absurd. The reality is that it is an extremely well run facility with careful controls and a highly trained professional staff. It is a valued asset to its community and to its state.

My prediction is that it will remain open to accepting additional waste longer than you think. The cost may go up for its customers, but if I controlled that asset that would have already happened. As a virtual monopoly supplier, Barnwell could be enormously profitable.

Of course, the operators are quite skilled businessmen who recognize that if they raise their prices too high, they might actually encourage the entry of competition. Since there really is not very much waste to go around, that would be damaging to their economic prospects.

I am sure that we will meet again soon. These are interesting times in the atomic world; there will be plenty of opportunities for your to practice your anti-nuclear profession by attending meetings and spreading your slanted view of the world.
Anonymous said…
It never ceases to amaze me that the anti-nooks continue to hammer the nuclear industry for taking care of it's waste, while letting dozens of industries that don't completely off the hook. I mean, we manage our waste safely, and have done so for going on a half-century of operation. Used fuel is kept secured and safe at plant sites while a plan for long term management is implemented. Low-level waste is packaged, monitored, and eventually disposed of in regulated, licensed waste facilities. All done in accordance with regulations, with proper oversight and controls.

Contrast that with other industries, which dump millions of gallons or thousands of tons of waste material into the environment, without proper controls, often unregulated, and in the end they simply walk away, without regard for the environment or people. Why don't groups like the NIRS go after industries like these, instead of hammering an industry that does manage it's waste properly, and makes provisions ahead of time for management of its legacy facilities?
Rod Adams said…
Why don't groups like the NIRS go after industries like these, instead of hammering an industry that does manage it's waste properly, and makes provisions ahead of time for management of its legacy facilities?

Maybe it is because the funding sources for long term, professional members of the anti-nuclear industry insist that their minions continue their opposition. NIRS has been in business for a very long time considering its only product is opposition to a safe, clean energy source.

Alternatively, perhaps it is because the nuclear industry accepts additional requirements and regulations without much resistance. After all, waste handling is a pretty profitable arm for many industry stalwarts.
gunter said…
Rod and Anon,

Classic double speak. "War is peace" too, right?

When was the last "low level" radioactive waste storage facility openned in this country in your memory?

Where were you during the last Low Level Radioactive Waste Compact searches for sites? If you recall or if you do a little research, the searches were abandoned because of the intense public ire it created. Remember Cortland County, NY?

Like I said and as Rod confirms, the industry is praying, hoping, wishing, and now squirming that S.C. will stay open. Or that more money will make a difference.

After three decades S.C. is through being the nation's one holer. The vote was taken and on July 1, 2008... "Game Over" for the only national LLRW dump for all the nukes save those in NJ, CT and SC.

Read for yourselves "Legislators Slam Door to Nuclear Waste Site" in the State of South Carolina's Home Page > <

You're free to try distractions as "NIRS this..." or "the environmentalists that..." or why we all don't redirect our agendas to focus on Chinese lead paint on Mattel toys---but this issue, among so many, exemplifies why it makes no sense to talk about building more nukes when this exhorbidently expensive, aging and deteriorating industry is imploding in so many areas from rising costs to more people retiring than young ones coming in (for both the industry and the NRC)to what are we going to do with all this radioactive crap, etc. etc.

Anonymous said…
The point is, you're hammering an industry that does plan ahead for waste disposal and facility retirement. It sets aside money now for those things that will be needed in the future. It manages its waste products in a responsible and sensible way. There are so many other industries out there that don't do that. In my town alone there are at least a half-dozen shuttered industrial plants whose previous owners made no provision for the retirement of their sites. They simply walked away from them. The city can't give away those sites because potential buyers/users are scared to death of lawyers suing them for the environmental damage caused by the previous owners. There are abandoned steel mills rusting away leeching who knows what into the environment. Those are real effects, now, causing environmental damage. If you'd spend your time going after the real polluters and industries who are poor stewards of the environment, you might have some credibility, and actually accomplish something useful, instead of dogging an industry that takes pains to manage its waste and facilities in a responsible manner.
bvidalin said…

I’m still confused. I did check out your new website. Your smiling face no longer adorns the NIRS, and it seems like you took most of the staff left with you? I’m not familiar with your Beyond Nuclear group, which is “…pursuing its mission under the auspices of the Nuclear Policy Research Institute”. That I recognize that as Helen Caldicot’s organization. Can I assume that’s the source of your funding?

The only real question I have concerns your independence, do you call the shots over there or does she?

My only suggestion, please remove discussion of climate change from the website, otherwise list nuclear power (such as Calvert Cliffs) as a remedy.

Bill V.

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