Rockville, MD – When it was first proposed late last decade, a new, modern European-style reactor at Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant in Lusby was targeted to go on-line in 2015. Instead, July 2015 marks the official demise of the multi-billion dollar plan, barring a revival somewhere down the road.
Initially, the Calvert Cliffs 3 project had overwhelming support from local, state and federal elected officials, business leaders, several residents living in proximity to the plant, community groups and trade unions, all who cited its huge estimated economic benefits.
According to federal officials the application for a combined construction and operation license for the plan, known as Calvert Cliffs 3, has been withdrawn by UniStar Nuclear Energy. The request for withdrawal was submitted by UniStar officials last month and formally accepted by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) last week, according to the Office of U.S. Federal Register. The Federal Register confirmed the requested withdrawal includes the “safeguards/security part of application.”
The granting of the request was confirmed by Frank Akstulewicz of the NRC’s Division of New Reactor Licensing, Office of New Reactors.
Earlier this year, UniStar had requested a “temporary suspension” of the application, which the NRC granted.
Currently, UniStar is 100 percent owned by Electricite de France (EDF). When Calvert Cliffs 3 was originally proposed in 2007, EDF was in partnership with Constellation Energy Group (CEG), the owners and operators of the Lusby plant.
In 2010, when UniStar was unable to secure a guaranteed $18.5 billion loan from the U.S. Department of Energy for the Calvert Cliffs project, CEG ended its partnership with EDF. That left UniStar without American representation. Federal regulations forbid granting licenses to operate nuclear energy facilities to foreign entities.
In 2011, the Atomic Safety Licensing Board ordered UniStar to demonstrate why the application process for the project should not be terminated. Efforts by UniStar to recruit a domestic partner for the Calvert Cliffs 3 project have been unsuccessful.
As for CEG, it subsequently merged with Exelon, the company that now owns and operates the Calvert Cliffs duo-reactor facility. Exelon officials have never expressed an interest in the Calvert Cliffs 3 project.
“The Calvert Cliffs 3 project collapsed because of a combination of factors,” officials with the Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS) stated in a 2010 newsletter following CEG’s withdrawal from UniStar. Among the factors cited at the time by NIRS were “soaring construction cost estimates, a large drop in electrical demand due to the ongoing recession and the institution of new energy efficiency programs.” The project opponents also noted problems with the design of the planned European pressurized water reactor.
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