Commissioners Mull Impacts of Third Reactor at Calvert Cliffs

By Guy Leonard, County Times

HOLLYWOOD, Md. (July 3, 2008)—The proposed third reactor project at Calvert Cliff Nuclear Power Plant in Calvert County could bring as many as 4,000 temporary construction and contracting jobs to Southern Maryland during the five to six years of active building, according to officials working to get the project approved.

While there could be economic benefits to so many jobs coming to Calvert and St. Mary’s county’s some on the Board of County Commissioners foresee potential problems.

The sudden influx of so many people could cause complications in finding homes for them to stay in; also the school system could be inundated with new students that might be gone in five or six years, leaving empty seats.

And with the influx of so many new jobs traffic could be snarled on the Thomas Johnson Bridge, causing a dangerous backup if lower Calvert County had to be evacuated in case of a reactor accident.

“Calvert County gets a cash cow but St. Mary’s County gets a bunch of evacuation signs,” said Commissioner Lawrence Jarboe (R-Golden Beach), who still believed the third reactor would be a beneficial new energy source. “If your going to bring that to the county [more students and people who need housing] you have to bring the money with it or better yet keep the housing close to the site.

“The expense of hundreds of new students is enormous.”

Thomas Roberts, vice president of construction for UniStar, a construction conglomerate that is subsidiary to Constellation Energy, said that UniStar is still looking at ways to accommodate the influx of workers.

On-site accommodations in Calvert were a possibility, he said.

Roberts also said that the conglomerate plans to hire as many construction and contract workers and skilled labor for the project as possible.

“This is a huge project,” Roberts said. “We’re working with College of Southern Maryland and other institutions to provide programs so that the work force is ready for the project.”

The project could be licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission by 2011 but pre-construction activity could begin in December if the state issues a certificate of public convenience and necessity.

The third reactor, which would generate 16 megawatts of electricity, almost as much as the two reactors currently at Calvert Cliffs, could be completed in late 2015.

Roberts said that the project is a multi-billion dollar effort; he declined to give exact figures, he said, because of competitive concerns in the energy market place.

Once the reactor comes on line it would require about 360 permanent jobs to operate it, Roberts said.

The reactor is designed to have a 60-year life span.

“This is a evolutionary designed reactor with lessons learned incorporated over the last 30 years,” Roberts told commissioners.

A shield structure covering the reactor also covers cooling apparatus and spent fuel and control rods. The structure is also designed to withstand the impact of a large passenger airline or a military jet aircraft, he said.

Despite adding the reactor to the facility, the view from the main highway would be as lowkey as it is now.

“You won’t be able to see the cooling tower from Route 2 or Route 4,” Roberts said.

A desalinization plant will also be built to provide a cooling agent for the reactor so local aquifers will not be too heavily taxed, he said.

Commissioner Daniel H. Raley (D-Great Mills) was keen on getting Constellation Energy’s help in defraying other costs of dealing with the Calvert Cliffs reactor, specifically in some kind of reimbursement, either monetary or in helping provide more space in the emergency operations center, for safety and emergency response drills county employees must take part in regularly.

“Fair is fair,” Raley said.

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