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Volume 15, Issue 34 ~ August 23 - August 29, 2007


Think Twice about Expanding Calvert Cliffs.
Then Say No Way

Baysiders ought to distance themselves from the rah-rah campaign for a third nuclear reactor at Calvert Cliffs. Likewise, Calvert’s Board of Commissioners should tone down its unqualified support and consider about what’s best for the long-term interests of Calvert County and the region as a whole.

The prospect of new jobs — some 400 of them — loomed large at a public meeting in Solomons last week that conveyed the message that countians wholeheartedly welcome the expansion. We understand the desire for jobs and the construction benefits, even though you can be sure that much of that work will be done by labor brought in from far away.

But we think the bigger issue is the kind of region we hope to be living in a decade or two from now. With UniStar Nuclear at a very early stage of the licensing, people have time to think that far into the future.

Already, one of Calvert County’s principal quality-of-life issues is growth. Planners have done a commendable job slowing population increases down from 4.1 percent in 2002 to 1.3 percent last year. Calvert is not in the market for new people.

But Calvert should be in the market for ways to diversify the economy rather than scheming to put more eggs in the nuclear basket.

A logical path to smart, safe growth is to avoid the sort of industries that discourage tourism and threaten Chesapeake Bay.

We devote vast resources and public policy energies to reviving Chesapeake Bay. It makes no sense to us to increase Bay pollution with more nuclear power.

Because the plant is situated a considerable distance from Route 2-4, it’s out of sight, out of mind for most people. But we’ve seen for ourselves the records showing the discharges of chemicals and the radioactive isotopes found in aquatic creatures in the Bay around the Calvert Cliffs plant.

Then there’s the reality of storing on site the high-level nuclear wastes from the cores of the reactors. That long-term storage never was supposed to happen. We were promised a national repository where these deadly materials would be forever entombed. Now after almost three decades, the government may well cancel plans to keep the waste at Yucca Mountain, Nev., the site that’s been most seriously considered.

The Board of Commissioners also should be thinking about the wisdom of enlarging a risky industry in a place where there’s essentially one road in and one road out.

There’s a reason no new nuclear power plants have been ordered for 30 years: Until global warming upped the urgency on replacing carbon fuels, nuclear energy was blacklisted as expensive, unpopular and risky.

We’re glad there’s time to think twice about beginning a new nuclear generation in Calvert County.

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