Foreign ownership blocks licence for Calvert Cliffs 3

3 September 2012

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Atomic Safety and Licensing Board has ruled that Unistar is ineligible to obtain a license for its proposed Calvert Cliffs 3 nuclear power plant in Maryland, because it is completely owned by a foreign corporation.

When the company submitted its combined construction and operating licence application for the Calvert Cliffs 3 EPR in 2007, UniStar was a joint venture between Maryland-based Constellation and the French company EDF.

In late 2010, EDF bought Constellation’s portion and made UniStar foreign-owned. EDF itself is 85% owned by the French government.

The ASLB said that if Unistar fails to find a domestic partner within 60 days of the 30 August ruling that the proceeding will be terminated.

The Calvert Cliffs judges also ruled on other issues so that if UniStar finds a suitable US partner in the future, the NRC could continue its overall review of the application, NRC said in its blog.

The judges examined a challenge to the NRC’s environmental review. The groups opposed to the application argued the agency’s review failed to properly account for possible increases in solar and wind power as an alternative to a new reactor. The judges said that argument was correct when the hearing started, but all the information considered during the hearing corrected the agency’s error. The judges ruled the environmental review as it exists today is acceptable.

The judges also ruled on the groups’ attempt to offer a new argument based on the lessons learned from last year’s Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear accident in Japan. The groups claimed the Calvert Cliffs environmental review would be incomplete until the NRC considered information from the agency’s Fukushima task force report, including possible improvements for dealing with reactor accidents.

The judges ruled that, while the groups filed their argument within the time allowed by the NRC’s rules, the judges must abide by a 16 March 2012, decision from the agency’s five Commissioners. That decision rejected a similar argument in other hearings, concluding the argument failed to point out how Fukushima’s events directly related to the applications under review. The Calvert Cliffs judges ruled the same situation applies here, and therefore the groups’ argument must be rejected.

As is the case with all Atomic Safety and Licensing Board decisions, the ruling can be appealed to the NRC’s five Commissioners.




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