By Michael Dresser, The Baltimore Sun
6:07 PM EST, January 4, 2012
The state Board of Public Works gave its unanimous approval Wednesday to a wetlands dredging permit for a company that hopes to build a third nuclear reactor at the Calvert Cliffs power plant in Southern Maryland, even though the project is far from getting off the ground.
The board granted the permit to UniStar Operating Services LLC after being told approval would help the company secure the licensing, financing and U.S.-based partner it would need to get the stalled project moving.
Doldon Moore, the board's wetlands administrator, said the plans include enough environmental impact mitigation that there would be no significant damage to natural resources in the area. Among other things, the permit would allow the builder of the plant to install a discharge pipe, reconstruct a barge loading facility and dispose of dredged material at an approved site.
UniStar is the company created by Constellation Energy and the French firm EDF in 2007, when the two companies became partners in a venture to build new nuclear power capacity in the United States after a decades-long hiatus. Constellation later backed out of the deal.
Ed Jarmas, senior vice president and general manager at Unistar, said EDF needs to find an American majority partner for UniStar to qualify for a federal license to operate a nuclear facility. Approval by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is just one of the conditions UniStar must satisfy before it can move ahead with the project.
Pressed by state Comptroller Peter Franchot on whether the board's approval was necessary now, Jarmas said that securing the wetlands permit would show regulators and potential U.S. partners that "we have cleared those hurdles."
Though he said he was skeptic about nuclear power, Franchot joined Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown, who was sitting in for Gov. Martin 0'Malley, and Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp in supporting the permit.
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