What? Maryland Likes Nuclear Power? Amazing!

By August 1, 2007Energy

Once you get past the lead, an interesting little story in the Metro section of today’s Washington Post, reporting on a proposal to expand the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant.

In a Maryland county where politicians roll out tax breaks for nuclear power expansion and residents feel so good about their existing plant that some fish next to the place, Bob Boxwell knows he’s fighting an uphill battle.

Why would you NOT fish next to a nuclear power plant? What an odd assumption. For goodness sakes, in Virginia the Surry Nuclear Power Station helps make the Hog Island Wildlife Management Area possible. Warm, protected waters near power plants are popular fishing spots all across the country.

Anyway, the rest of the story is fine, reporting the complaints of opponents of nuclear power who feel kind of lonely in their campaign against progress. Local residents like the Calvert Cliffs plant, the jobs, the steady employment, the tax base, the power. All five Calvert County commissioners support the project. (Earlier blog post here.)

This story does illustrate a reality that electric utilities have recognized, that it’s going to be much easier to site new power plants (or units, more likely) next to existing facilities. The regulatory hurdles are easier than those accompanying a greenfield project. Local communities will have become accustomed to the plants’ presence (cooling towers will have lost their ability to startle), and the plants’ economic contributions will be understood and appreciated. As is their safety.

The proven safety records of existing plants makes harder to scare local residents, taxpayers and voters with wild stories of possible disaster in case of expansion. Which is what the opponents are trying in Maryland.

Calvert residents have lulled themselves into a false sense of safety, Boxwell said. If the plant expands, he said, Calvert Cliffs will have to store more spent fuel, which will render it that much more vulnerable to a terrorist attack or a catastrophic accident.

And even the scaremongering is lame. If you can’t store the fuel safely, you can’t store it, period, and safety by definition includes being invulnerable to terrorist attacks or catastrophic accidents.

Knowledge is nuclear power’s best friend, and the knowledge that local residents have in Calvert County spells good news for the power plant’s expansion.

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