Volume 13, Issue 22 ~ June 2 - 8, 2005

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No New Nukes On The Bay

Where can we find a place where people are too dumb or too lazy to care?

You can bet that a version of this question sounded during conference calls between nuclear industry executives as they assembled a plan to build two new nuclear reactors somewhere in the United States — then get taxpayers to foot much of the bill.

It shouldn’t do a lot for our self-esteem in Chesapeake Country to know that the nuclear strategists put Calvert County on their list of six places in America that might roll over for the nuclear industry. The reaction from those six locales might well determine who stays on the list and who doesn’t.

We have trouble understanding why a company called NuStart Energy Development LLC, made up of eight companies, would put together such a list in the first place. It’s not very reassuring recalling that LLC stands for limited liability corporation.

There are reasons why no nuclear plant has been ordered in America since the 1970s. Among those reasons is the ongoing debacle over how to manage deadly nuclear waste.

We’ve been hearing for decades how the industry and government together would collect the highly radioactive spent fuel rods from the cores of reactors and deposit them at a single location, thereby protecting us for 10,000 years. But those storage plans — among them a plan to transport the deadly wastes to Yucca Mountain in Nevada — keep getting derailed. The closest the industry has come to solving its problem, and we are not making this up, is persuading an Indian tribe to store 40,000 tons of nuclear waste in the Utah desert. Temporarily … ha ha ha. Just last week, a federal licensing board rejected an appeal by the state of Utah to stop the private storage plan.

The point for us is that barring a solution, the waste remains stored at the Calvert Cliffs nuclear plant and at reactors across the country

This is not something that the nuclear industry wants us to think much about. But the National Academy of Sciences, perhaps the nation’s best arbiter of good judgment when it comes to our physical world, has been thinking about this monumental planning glitch.

And in April, a panel of nuclear exports convened by the academy called for an examination of plants across the country and new measures to guard against terrorist attacks.

We’re not paranoid sorts, but we have to wonder about the wisdom of expanding the target by adding another nuclear plant to the one that already exists — within sight of a the nation’s largest liquefied natural gas import facility.

All along Chesapeake Bay.

Just because the Goshutes in Utah are forsaking the traditional tribal concern for Mother Earth, should we?

At least in the open spaces of the West, people have multiple evacuation routes, which is not the case in Calvert County, where a single main road connects the peninsula to the outside world.

Fast-growing Calvert County has much more going for it than when the first Calvert Cliffs reactor came on line in 1975. That’s why far-sighted planners have been urging for years that the county diversify.

We understand that Calvert reaps the largest single share of its tax revenues from the nuclear plant.

But that has meant putting too many eggs in one basket — not a good practice when you consider what happens to eggs.

© COPYRIGHT 2004 by New Bay Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.