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No New Nukes at Calvert

UniStar Nuclear is too French for Uncle Sam

Local cheering for a third nuclear reactor at Calvert Cliffs has seemed misplaced.
    The economics of nuclear power are next to impossible these days with the federal government no longer able to provide loan guarantees and cheap natural gas the happening new energy source.
    Then there’s Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster two years ago that rekindled safety concerns.
    But the overriding issue here is that UniStar Nuclear, which operates the Calvert County nuclear station, is wholly owned by the French (and 85 percent by the government of France).
    U.S. law prohibits “foreign ownership, control or domination” of a nuclear reactor on American soil. But the commission has permitted foreign partnership with U.S. owners of existing reactors.
    So it was no surprise when, last August, the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board said no to UniStar’s application for a license to add a third reactor at Calvert Cliffs.
    Nor was it a surprise this week when the Nuclear Regulatory Commission upheld that ruling. The Commission observed that what UniStar really wanted in its appeal was to revisit the foreign ownership prohibitions. That matter, the reply politely added, would be studied.
    UniStar said it is seeking a U.S. partner. But Michael Mariotte, executive director of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service, an anti-nuclear advocacy group, advises against holding our breath.
    “This reactor was never going to be built. It could not overcome the failed economics of nuclear power generally,” he said in a statement, noting that political leaders in Annapolis are taking the more prudent path of promoting wind power.