WASHINGTON – The Coast Guard is making permanent a security zone around the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant that was set up in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
The temporary security zone will become permanent Monday, the Coast Guard announced in a notice published in Friday’s Federal Register.
The current zone prohibits people and vessels from being within an area about 500 yards along the coast and about 300 yards into the bay without permission from the Coast Guard, said Lt. Dulani Woods. There will be no changes to the size or shape of the security zone when it becomes permanent.
“It’s just a continuation of what we started back in February of 2002,” Woods said.
It will be the Coast Guard’s first permanent security zone in the Chesapeake Bay, Woods said. But it may not be the last.
The Coast Guard last week proposed establishing security zones around the nearby Cove Point Liquefied Natural Gas Terminal and around cruise ships and ships with dangerous cargo as they travel through the bay. Those regulations are not expected to take effect before mid-June.
The zone near Calvert Cliffs was established temporarily on Feb. 28, 2002, to protect the plant from terrorism. It has been renewed twice since then, in June and October, and would have expired for the third time on Monday.
Normally there is a 30-day period between a rule’s publication in the Federal Register and its going into effect. But Woods said the Coast Guard is speeding up the process in this case so that there will not a gap between the expiration of the temporary rule and the start of the permanent rule.
The plant has also been protected by Maryland State Police since March 17, when Gov. Robert Ehrlich ordered troopers onto the grounds after the nation’s terror alert level was raised to orange, said plant spokeswoman Angela Walters.
In the year since the zone was first established, the Coast Guard has received no official objections or complaints about it, Woods said.
The Canoe Cruisers Association of Greater Washington, D.C., had worried that the zone would extend much farther out into the bay, but the 300 yards would not make a difference, said Ed Gertler, assistant conservation chair for the association.
Gertler said that the zone does not bother canoeists because it is near the plant’s intake area, which members of his group avoid because of strong currents and shallow water.
“That’s not even an inconvenience,” he said.