Once routinely offered to school and community groups, plant tours were halted after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists attacks. The October visits by relatives of plant employees and neighbors who live within a five-mile radius were the first since security has been upgraded at the plant, said Jim Spina, vice president at Calvert Cliffs.[Snip]
"Regardless of your stand on nuclear power, you were invited," Spina said, noting that the tours were conducted to help the public understand nuclear power and how the plant operates.
Plant employees doubled as tour guides, answering questions on topics such as the amount of electricity produced by the loud, churning turbines and how Calvert Cliffs officials handle opposition to the proposed third reactor.
"It is a great public relations thing," Chuck Lockerby of Drum Point said after a tour.
Lockerby, who bought property in Calvert in 1970 and has lived in the county since 1986, said he favors a third reactor, which could nearly double the capacity of the plant on the banks of the Chesapeake Bay.
"It is going to reduce our taxes, for those of us who have lived here so long," he said.
"And we need more energy sources," said his wife, Jean.
Constellation Energy has significant support elsewhere in Calvert for a third reactor. Elected officials and many residents say they think it would result in hundreds of new jobs and $20 million a year in tax revenue.
The alarms and flashing lights of the simulator were the best part of the tour, said 11-year-old siblings Anthony and Rachel Lettner of St. Leonard. Their mother, Sharon, said that both children were excited about the tour and that her curiosity was piqued, with the company seeking regulatory approval for a third reactor.
There has been a lot of "swamp gas and mirrors associated with it," Sharon Lettner said. "This [tour] put that to rest."
Spina said he would like to continue the public tours and expand the list of who will be invited. For now, however, no other tour is scheduled.