Anti-Nuclear Fight Revs Up in Southern Maryland


PRINCE FREDERICK, Md. (Sept. 26, 2008)—A small group of Calvert County residents met Wednesday night to band together in opposition to a proposed third reactor at the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant.

The meeting, which was organized by the Chesapeake Safe Energy Coalition, ended with the formation of a new, local group dedicated to raising awareness in Southern Maryland about nuclear power.

"Our first objective is to demonstrate that there is strong opposition within Calvert County to the new reactor," said Julia Clark, of Solomons. Clark is a spokeswoman for the new group, which will be known as Southern Maryland Citizens Alliance for Renewable Energy Solutions, or Southern Maryland CARES.

One idea brought up at the meeting was to demand a tougher approach to the proposed reactor by the Maryland Office of the People's Counsel, an independent agency representing Maryland's residential energy consumers.

"They will not have this [new] reactor legally certified before our window of opportunity to raise questions closes," said Paul Gunter, a nuclear reactor specialist for Beyond Nuclear, an anti-nuclear advocacy group.

The group also hopes to educate residents of Calvert County about what it calls the dangers that additional nuclear power could bring to the area.

"I don't think people know what they're being exposed to on a daily basis," Clark said. "I come from a non-activist background... [but] when I became educated on the negative aspects [of nuclear power], I became outraged."

A new reactor could generate up to 1,375 tons of waste during its 40-year lifespan, according to the Maryland Public Interest Research Group. Calvert Cliffs currently stores nuclear waste on-site while the federal government attempts to find a more permanent solution.

Constellation Energy Group Inc., which Warren Buffett's MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co. has agreed to buy, hopes to have the new reactor operating by 2015, adding approximately 1,600 megawatts of generating capacity. The company finished filing an application to construct and operate the new reactor earlier this year.

Capital News Service was unable to get a comment from Constellation Energy about the new opposition group despite several messages left at the company's office Thursday.

"I am in favor of that additional generating capacity ... at Calvert Cliffs," Gov. Martin O'Malley said on Tuesday during WTOP's "Ask The Governor" segment.

The state hopes that by adding more capacity to the electricity grid Maryland will be able to avoid an energy shortage that could cause rolling blackouts as early as 2011.

The proposed reactor would be the first approved for building in more than 30 years in the United States and would be the largest nuclear reactor in the country.

"It's a ripe target for terrorists ... placing the largest nuclear power plant so close to Washington, D.C.," Clark said.

Capital News Service contributed to this report.

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