Palace says no rush in activating Bataan Nuclear Power Plant

Published by rudy Date posted on February 27, 2009

MANILA, Philippines – Despite calls from lawmakers to activate the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) to prevent severe power shortage in the future, Malacañang said it would still have to check on the safety aspect of the facility.

Deputy Presidential Spokesman Anthony Golez said Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes suggested that there should be consultations and studies to determine whether the BNPP could still be operated safely.

Reyes said that a feasibility study should be thorough to enable the government to make a good decision.

Golez, however, could not say when the study would be finished, as Reyes earlier told reporters the review could take years.

He said energy sufficiency is a priority of the government but “there are other projects we can pursue to achieve this, not just through the BNPP.”

Meanwhile, environment organization Greenpeace said the BNPP would only count among the world’s most dangerous nuclear plants if operated.

It explained that the BNPP is not only “outdated,” it also does not conform to the current safety fundamentals of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

In a press conference, Greenpeace disclosed the “dubious safety of nuclear power” which it branded as “inherently dangerous facility.” The group insisted that revitalizing the BNPP despite its obsolete condition makes such a move even more risky.

“Nuclear power remains as dangerous as ever that even the safety standards of the IAEA are not proof against the possibility of any nuclear accident. But if you operate a nuclear plant that does not even follow these protocols, or which will require an exhaustive back job to make it merely close to acceptable, then you’re asking for big trouble,” pointed out Beau Baconguis, campaign manager of Greenpeace-Southeast Asia for the Philippines.

Greenpeace said the design of the BNPP is “faulty.”

Its compliance with the IAEA’s nuclear plant construction and site selection protocols have been the subject of doubt even before the BNPP was finished, it added.

Among others, Greenpeace said the design of the BNPP’s reactor is already far outmoded from the double-concrete and steel versions that were built in recent years.

Greenpeace also raised the ability of the plant to withstand earthquake standards, especially since the BNPP is located on Mt. Natib, a sleeping volcano that constitutes the entire northern half of the Bataan peninsula.

Scientists have established that Mt. Pinatubo, Mt. Natib, and Mt. Mariveles “owe their existence to the same geological line” and these volcanoes are “not exactly dissimilar in behavior.”

Mt. Pinatubo erupted in 1991 in what was considered the second largest volcanic eruption in the 20th century.

Greenpeace said BNPP has “unresolved safety issues” raised by the three studies conducted on the facility in the past two decades – two government-commissioned, one independent – that still remain undisputed. – Paolo Romero, Katherine Adraneda, Philippine Star

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