Thursday, May 28, 2009

Constellation's Nuclear Power Ball Gamble on CC3

The New York Times points out the trouble Constellation Energy's partner Areva is having building a new nuclear plant in Finland in an article entitled, "In Finland, Nuclear Renaissance Runs Into Trouble." As the only environmental organization in the nation that openly supports nuclear power, we found the coverage 'intriguing.'

The Center supports a third reactor at Calvert Cliffs (CC3), but completely understands the war that is to come in order to get it built. If Constellation and Electricite de France/Areva do not adequately prepare for this war, not only will a third reactor not be built, it could be the death knell for the predicted nuclear renaissance. The article points out:

"After four years of construction and thousands of defects and deficiencies, the reactor’s 3 billion euro price tag, about $4.2 billion, has climbed at least 50 percent. And while the reactor was originally meant to be completed this summer, Areva, the French company building it, and the utility that ordered it, are no longer willing to make certain predictions on when it will go online."
Antinuclear activists will attack the foreign ownership (49.9%) and the fact that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has not yet approved the European (Evolutionary) Power Reactor (EPR) design under construction in Finland, which is the reactor type to be built at Calvert Cliffs. Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley will also face a blistering assault for supporting CC3. We just wonder whether he will sustain his support. Our guess is that he will not if the withering attacks start to threaten his reelection. We also doubt that the industry knows how to fight this kind of ground war.

The times have changed significantly since we first came out in support for nuclear power in 2001. It is ironic that Calvert Cliffs was the first nuclear power plant in America to get its license renewed without much attention or controversy, but will now find itself on the front line in the battle for a nuclear renaissance .

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