Regulators Deny Maryland Nuclear Permit

Foreign ownership of a nuclear reactor proposed for Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay has made the project ineligible for a license.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Atomic Safety and Licensing Board denied the application for the Calvert Cliffs-3 reactor because the project’s owner, UniStar Nuclear, is owned by Electricite de France.

The Atomic Energy Act forbids foreign ownership or control.

"The license cannot be granted as long as the current ownership arrangement is in effect," writes the board in its ruling.

In a "second last chance" notice, NRC gave UniStar 60 days to find a US partner, even though it already has had more than two years to do so.

That is has failed to do so signals a lack of confidence in the climate for nuclear development in the US. Even though President Obama approved two new projects early this year, they have already been plagued with delays and cost overruns.

The US stance on nuclear is at odds with some European economies, such as Germany, which opted to eliminate nuclear in the wake of the Fukushima meltdown in Japan.

Constellation Energy was originally involved in the Calvert-Cliffs 3 project, but it pulled out in October 2010.

"This is a great day for Maryland," says Michael Mariotte, executive director of Nuclear Information and Resource Service, one of the organizations that challenged the project based on its foreign ownership. "Marylanders need not fear another dangerous nuclear reactor in our state, nor the accumulation of still more lethal radioactive waste on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay." 

Earlier this month, NRC postponed at least 19 nuclear licensing decisions while it considers new policies for disposal and storage of nuclear waste. 

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