Federal Government Orders Hearing on Licensing of Proposed Calvert Cliffs-3 Nuclear Power Reactor

For Immediate Release

Nuclear Information and Public Safety Groups
Contact: 

Michael Mariotte, NIRS, 301-270-6477
Paul Gunter, Beyond Nuclear, 301-270-2209

Federal Government Orders Hearing on Licensing of Proposed Calvert Cliffs-3 Nuclear Power Reactor

NRC Licensing Board Throws out Unistar Claim Reactor Is So Safe No Hearing Is Needed

TAKOMA PARK, Md. - An
Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB) established by the federal Nuclear
Regulatory Commission March 24 ordered a judicial hearing on the licensing of
UniStar Nuclear's proposed Calvert Cliffs-3 nuclear reactor on the Chesapeake Bay.

In
doing so, the ASLB flatly rejected UniStar's claim that its proposed
reactor is so safe that no person could ever be harmed by an accident at the
plant. Rather, the ASLB upheld the NRC's precedent that people within 50
miles of the site have the right to challenge reactor license applications.

The
ASLB ordered the courtroom-style hearings on three key issues:

*whether
the entire project is illegal under the Atomic Energy Act's prohibition
against foreign "ownership, control or domination" of a nuclear
reactor

*whether
UniStar Nuclear must prove it can afford to pay eventual decommissioning
liabilities before receiving a federal construction license

*how
UniStar will handle the highly radioactive waste, classified as Class B and C
"low-level" waste, the reactor will generate given that the only
site in the country that accepted this waste closed in July 2008.
UniStar's application did not include adequate on-site storage facilities
for this dangerous waste.

Intervenors
argue the massive investment by Electricite de France (EdF) in Maryland's
Constellation Energy Group violates the Atomic Energy Act-the fundamental
basis of all nuclear law. EdF owns half of UniStar Nuclear, and another 9.5% of
Constellation itself-the other half-owner. EdF also is investing $4.5
billion in Constellation to purchase half of its existing nuclear reactors, and
has an option for another $2 billion investment to buy non-nuclear generating
facilities. The reactor itself would be supplied by another French company,
Areva. Substantial financing of the project is expected, according to UniStar
officials, to come from the French export-import bank. All three entities are
organs of the French government.

If
the ASLB agrees after hearing testimony that this overwhelming participation by
French companies and the French government constitutes ownership, control, or domination by
foreign entities, UniStar's license will be denied.

The
intervenors that sought the hearing and gained standing are Nuclear Information
and Resource Service (NIRS), Beyond Nuclear, Public Citizen, and Southern
Maryland Citizens Alliance for Renewable Energy Solutions (SoMDCARES). All are
within 50 miles of the Calvert Cliffs site. Initial filings were made in
November 2008, and a pre-hearing conference on whether a hearing should occur
was held on February 20, 2009.

The
ASLB rejected four contentions submitted by the intervenors: one arguing the
license application should consider the full cumulative impacts of building new
reactors on the Chesapeake Bay; one on the dangers posed by the site's
proximity to the Dominion Cove Liquified Natural Gas complex and the inadequacy
of the PPRP Risk Analysis which Calvert Cliffs-3 has heavily relied upon in its
application; one on the impacts to the Bay of the reactor's cooling water
intake pumps; and one on the lack of a facility to dispose of the lethal
high-level radioactive waste the reactor would generate.

The
latter issue was deemed generic and thus not admissible in a single reactor
licensing proceeding. Separately, however, the intervenors have submitted a
contention arguing for a stay of the licensing proceeding until high-level
waste issues have been resolved. That contention was not addressed by this ASLB
order.

"The
ASLB wisely rejected UniStar Nuclear's preposterous claim that its
reactor-which has never operated anywhere in the world and for which the
design is not even complete-is so safe that nobody could ever challenge
it. Nuclear power is an inherently dangerous technology, and UniStar's
cavalier attitude already demonstrates it is unfit to operate a nuclear reactor,"
said Michael Mariotte, executive
director of NIRS.

"Now
that our standing is confirmed, we will have the opportunity to submit new
contentions as new application documents and safety concerns emerge,"
noted Paul Gunter of Beyond Nuclear. "We expect a long process."

"UniStar's
French connection will prove to be its Achilles Heel," said Mariotte.
"The Atomic Energy Act is clear: this level of foreign involvement is
illegal. Imagine if the Iranian or North Korean government were to have this kind
of investment in a U.S.
nuclear project-the howls of protest at the NRC and in Congress would be
deafening. But the Act wisely does not differentiate between friend and foe,
because no one can predict the future. 35 years ago, the U.S. was selling nuclear technology to Iran,
now we're trying to get them to end their nuclear program."

The
order is available at http://www.nirs.org/nukerelapse/calvert/aslborder324.pdf.

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Nuclear Information and Resource Service
Beyond Nuclear
Public Citizen
Southern Maryland Citizens Alliance for Renewable Energy Solutions

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