|In Calvert County, An Extended Source of Power
For the Baltimore Gas and Electric Co., knowing now that the Calvert Cliffs nuclear plant will operate well into the new century is such good news that utility officials toasted one another at a reception in Lusby this week.
But for critics of nuclear power, the Nuclear Regulatory Commissions decision last week to extend Calvert Cliffs operating license for another 20 years is troubling because, they say, the public was denied the right to take an active role in the licensing.
Arrogant is the word for it, complained Stephen Kohn, a lawyer for the National Whistleblowers Center, which has challenged the commissions procedures in court. After being upheld once, the center is awaiting a new ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals on its demand for an administrative review hearing.
The center wants the right for nuclear experts to question plant workers and others in the type of public hearing that the commission allowed before changing its rules. If utility engineers can withstand cross-examination and counter-points by independent experts, that would give you reasonable assurance that the plant is safe, Kohn said.
In granting the extension, the commission decided not to wait for the court to rule. Calvert Cliffs therefore became the first nuclear plant in the country to win license renewal in a case that was being closely watched around the country as an indicator of the rules and red tape awaiting other plants in their re-licensing drive. More than two dozen of the nations 103 nuclear plants have applied for 20-year extensions.
In a brief news release, the commission said that its staff concluded that there were no safety concerns that would preclude renewal of the licenses, because the licensee had demonstrated the capability to manage the effects of plant aging.
The Calvert Cliffs plant, which is situated along Chesapeake Bay, has two nuclear reactors, one that began operating in 1974 and the other in 1976. They were not scheduled to expire until 2014 and 2016, reflecting what was once regarded as a 40-year life cycle of a nuclear plant. But Constellation Energy Group, which owns Calvert Cliffs, filed a 2,500-page application for renewal in April 1998 in order to better calculate its business alternatives.
The extensions granted last week by the commission mean that the new reactors can run until 2034 and 2036.
Karl Neddenien, spokesman for Calvert Cliffs, said that many public hearings related to the new license were held, albeit not the sort the commission once allowed. He said that company officials personally picked up the license at the commission headquarters and traveled to the plant this week to congratulate staff members. A reception was held to celebrate the success.
Every day, we have to prove that we deserve it, and we do that by operating safely, Neddenien said. It makes us very proud to be the first to earn this right.
No new nuclear plants have been built or ordered in the United States for many years and people have been forecasting the demise of nuclear energy, both because of its high costs and the vexing problem of what to do with its highly radioactive wastes. The used fuel generated at Calvert Cliffs since the 1970s was supposed to have been hauled away to a national repository by now, but that hasnt happened because no state will take it.
So it remains stored in Calvert County.
Neddenien asserted that nuclear energy has proved to be an environmentally wise way to produce electricity.
For copies of documents related to the licensing, visit http://www.nrc.gov/
OPA/reports/renewal.htm. Or for another view, visit www.whistleblowers.org.
At Annapolis Armory, Antique Homeshow
photo courtesy of the Marlboro Hunt Club
Worthless junk can transform into valuable antiques, right? Thats the hope of more than 120 people who will have their family treasures appraised at the London Town Foundations 30th annual Annapolis Heritage Antiques Show this weekend. Local antiques experts, each with different areas of expertise, will appraise potential valuables on Friday and Saturday from 11am until 4pm.
In previous years, organizers of this annual fund-raiser for Historic London Town and Gardens offered appraisals for a few hours on just one day. It was such a big hit, we had to turn people away, said Lee Butler, business manager of the London Town Foundation. People said, You have to do it more.
This year theyre giving the people what they want.
Show manager Bob Armacost explains the appeal: Many people dont otherwise have an opportunity to have an antique appraised, he said. Its fun to find out what an antique is worth.
Those wanting appraisals sign up in advance to reserve time with qualified appraisers. Its too late now to reserve a slot. But if time allows, appraisers will examine up to two items for those without an appointment.
Assistants will be poised with dollies and carts to help customers move items. Bring anything as long as it fits through the door. Cost for appraisals is $15 for the first item and $10 for a second item. These fees include a free pass to the show, which otherwise costs $7.
If you dont want an appraisal, this antiques show offers plenty else to see and do. The Annapolis Heritage Antiques Show fills the Annapolis Armory every afternoon this Friday, March 31, through Sunday, April 2.
Of course, sometimes junk is just that. So if your family jewels turn out to be rocks, remember Armacosts advice: This is a family heirloom. Youll love it no matter how much its worth.
On Roedown Race Day, Chesapeake Country Goes to the Horses
When the first carload of picnickers pulls into Roedown Farm on Sunday April 2, everything will be ready. Farm chores will wait a day, and a years worth of planning will come into play for exactly that.
Fun for the whole family, promises spokeswoman Ginna Gould.
The 26th Marlborough Hunt Races at Roedown is both a prestigious event on the steeple chase circuit and a labor of love for countless volunteers.
The members of the Marlborough Hunt Club have built and painted jumps, laid sod and mulch, wheedled sponsors, organized race times, moved the baby horses out of their field (and cleaned up the road apples) and propped open fences all for the pure joy of watching their favorite sport. As usual, everyone who shares this passion or just wants a fine day in the country is invited.
Of course, for the race riders, this is the day when all the hard work pays off. The early morning gallops sometimes with a flashlight strapped to the helmet and the miles pounded building up muscle and stamina for horse and rider are necessary commitments to the sport. Training days are the time for dreams. Each rider from the novice pony entrant in her first race on a wind-up pony whos safely carried a generation of children to the timber jockey who prays that luck is in the stirrups with him believes theyre on the winner. For a horseman, every race you learn from is a good one.
Members of the Marlborough Hunt Club have spent the past season conditioning their mounts and themselves for the honor of riding in the relay and the privilege of representing their club in the later Governors Cup.
The Fox Hunters Relay race covers three miles, with a team of three riders, each riding a mile and handing the baton to the next rider. They practice the tricky art of handing the baton over at a gallop because the biggest heartbreak is dropping the baton. The teams gather points for each win and place during the season, with the highest placing clubs eligible to compete in the final race, the Governors Cup. Roedown is the second meet of eight of participating hunt clubs, and the competition is, politely, fierce.
Calvert Chaney, the groundsman and course chairman, has manicured the farms turf and dirt over the past year for perfect footing, a critical component of the races. Christy Clagett, chair of the event, has worked full time the last three months organizing every detail. The week after the races she spends crawling on her hands and knees to clean up the land to return it safely to the horses.
For $10 for parking and a $5 entrance fee, a city slicker or townie can glimpse these country thrills.
The hilltop gives a fine view of the whole race course. All 10 races can be seen without leaving the picnic basket, and you can cheer as loud as you want. But you are partying in the yearling pasture, remember, and baby horses are as curious as toddlers who put everything strange in their mouths. Take all your trash home, especially shrimp shells, cigarette butts and bottle caps.
The rail is the place to watch the guts and glory up close. There is a race every 30 minutes, so there is plenty of time to soak up the atmosphere. A few minutes before each race, the popular places on the rail at the beginning and the end of the course start to fill up. Ive found that a good vantage is the hill, across from the middle of the track, where you can see the whole race.
As glorious as they are, the races are not everything. Wander among the tailgate competition, sponsored and judged by Herrington on the Bay. Usually, all the tailgaters are lined up along a lane at the top of the hill. The culinary styles run the gamut from hearty barbecue to hot and spicy to candelabra gourmet. A nice smile and a compliment to the chef may win you a sample.
Visit dealers of fine leather work, country clothing and horse equipment. Try your luck at the raffle put on by Annapolis Volvo, sponsors of the 10th race, who are donating Volvo ocean race gear including a GoreTex jacket with Polartec lining that retails for $379 and gear bags, polo shirts and caps. Saratoga water, a sponsor with Bob Hall of the John Murray Begg Memorial, is very generous with bottles of plain and flavored water.
But if youve come for race riding, this is a good as it gets. The races range from junior riders (under 15 years old) and ponies in the half mile Raymond R. Ruppert Memorial, to the Foxhunters Relay Race, which is over three miles. There are races for novice riders and maiden horses who have never won a race. There are races over hurdles, which are brush jumps, and timber, solid jumps of wooden rails.
Many people will enjoy the races at Roedown for the day, but for many more racing is a part of life. David and Ginna Gould are sponsoring the Ruppert Memorial in the memory of her mother, Virginia Baker Rogers, an avid horsewoman, who taught and encouraged children to ride. After all, pony riders grow up to be race riders.
Watch the 26th Annual Running of the Marlborough Hunt Races Sun., April 2. Gates open at 10am with the first race at noon. Follow Rt. 214 to Queen Anne Bridge Rd. to Wayson Rd., then follow the signs to the racecourse, on a private farm in Davidsonville: 410/798-5040.
A Smooth Surfside 7 Sunday Sans Santana
With 3,000 people sprawled across the lawn at Surfside 7, no one missed Carlos Santana. But the rumor that he might show for good friend Gali Sanchezs benefit lived on throughout the day.
Sanchez, a former percussionist for the reincarnated Santana, faces a cancer diagnosis. Friend and brother Larry Griffin of Mama Jama faces the cancer as well.
Hearing of Sanchezs illness, Griffin and his We Care friends Jeffrey Jacobs, Jody Dalton, Michael Flanagan, Ken Bess and Robert Eades banned together for one more benefit concert.
Such concerts are almost monthly events for Griffin and his friends, and Jerry Osuna of Surfside 7 is always ready to give them a home.
We have charity events every month at Surfside 7. Im lucky to have this business in Maryland, and I want to give back to the community, Osuna says, refusing to accept credit. Without the Surfside staff and We Care volunteers, this benefit would never have happened.
We Care came into being after Griffin faced his own struggles. I was homeless for a short while and a drug addict for many years. After getting clean and sober in 1988, I thought it was time for me to give something back, he says.
Griffins organization provides help for those whove fallen through the cracks. He gets daily calls from people in need, but Sundays benefit focused on Sanchez.
Sanchezs ties to Chesapeake Country are many. Followers of Mama Jama and the Global Function thank Sanchez for his part in creating these Annapolis music sensations. They and other musicians including Tom Principato provided the rhythm for Sundays benefit, while the guest groovers provided the help.
It was a family day, with everyone sitting on their blankets like it was Merriweather Post Pavilion, explains Griffin.
We Care aids many musicians, as Sanchezs predicament is not unusual. A musical life provides excitement but not good benefits.
Sundays benefit helped Sanchez take a $30,000 bite out of his bills.
In West Virginia, the state Agriculture Department acknowledged an ulterior motive in creating an experimental alligator farm: to get rid of dead chickens from a cluster of poultry farms
In Washington state, the National Park Service announced last week that is banning jet skis and personal water craft from dozens of national parks, recreation areas and national sea shores. The agency said it was acting to protect people who seek solitude and traditional recreational activities
In Massachusetts, a biomedical firm sued to block a new federal ban on the harvesting of horseshoe crabs from the seashore near Cape Cod. The company, which uses crab blood to make medical product, says it should be exempt because it returns the horseshoes to the sea rather than using them for bait
Our Creature Feature this week is a bizarre tale from the Somali Desert in northern Kenya, where a brawl over drinking water occurred last week between people and monkeys. It began when a pack of parched monkeys attacked members of a nomadic tribe gathered around a water tanker, biting and clawing the people and driving them away.
People returned with clubs and machetes and, in a fierce battle, eight monkeys died and 10 people were injured, according to a report by the Pan African News Agency. One man said he hopes that next time, its not thirsty elephants who visit.