A draft Environmental Impact Statement unveiled by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission concluded that a 20-year extension of the operating licence for Baltimore Gas & Electric Co’s two-unit Calvert Cliffs PWR in Maryland should not be blocked on environmental grounds.

In April 1998, BG&E became the first owner of a US nuclear station to seek approval for a 20 year licence extension. The original 40 year operating licences for the two 850 MWe units at the Calvert Cliffs station are scheduled to expire in 2014 and 2016. Licence renewal would allow them to continue working until 2034 and 2036.

The draft NRC study examined 13 environmental issues, including the impact on groundwater, endangered species and aquatic life in Chesapeake Bay.

Last summer, Duke Energy also submitted an application to the NRC for licence renewal for its Oconee plant in South Carolina. Many other nuclear plant owners are waiting to see what the NRC does with these applications. If the NRC approves a 20-year extension for Calvert Cliffs’ licence, others would likely apply.

After allowing time for public comment on the draft study, the NRC plans to issue a final environmental impact statement. The agency hopes to make a final decision by May 2000.