4 government agencies attest BNPP not resting on earthquake fault

Published by rudy Date posted on April 8, 2009

MANILA, Philippines – Four government agencies have attested that the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) does not rest on an active fault.

Findings of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs), Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the National Institute of Geological Sciences (NIGS) have disputed reports that the mothballed facility should not be revived because of the danger of a nuclear fallout in case of a major earthquake.

The Public Relations and Information Division (PRID) of the House of Representatives issued a statement citing the findings of the four government agencies.

The PRID said the absence of an active fault “beneath and within” the BNPP area bolstered the position of Pangasinan Rep. Mark Cojuangco to restore the nuclear plant.

The PRID cited the letter of Phivolcs director Renato Solidum Jr. to Cojuangco, which stated that they found “no evidence to support the presence of an active fault beneath the nuclear reactor building of the BNPP or within the BNPP area.”

“A complementary review of Phivolcs’ archived geological reports and existing field data also made no mention of an active fault beneath the site,” a portion of the House statement read.

Phivolcs defined active fault as a fracture or zone of weakness where movement has occurred within the last 10,000 years, based on historical or contemporary earthquake occurrence, displaced rocks or soil units of known age less than 10,000 years and displaced landforms.

The Mines and Geosciences Bureau of the DENR made the same conclusion. It revealed that the area is “underlain by pyroclastic deposits, agglomerates and volcanic ashes and does not indicate the presence of a fault.”

This was the available information the MGB-DENR had, on the site geology of BNPP, which was complemented by analysis of existing topographic maps and satellite images, according to the agency.

The NIGS, meantime, declared the same findings. “No evidence of faults underneath the BNPP” was the result of the survey conducted by Carlo Arcilla and Mario Collado, NIGS director-associate professor and Master of Science, respectively.

Both used four lines of two-dimensional electrical resistivity for geotechnical study of BNPP.

Cojuangco had sought the expert scientific opinions of the agencies concerned before filing his proposal to revive the mothballed nuclear facility.

Cojuangco particularly enlisted the assistance of the DOST and DENR to spearhead the information campaign on the benefits of nuclear energy. Cojuangco also supported the passage of the Renewable Energy Act, saying he is not against other renewable sources of energy.

The Pangasinan lawmaker stressed that nuclear power is not only safe, but also more earth-friendly compared to coal-fired plants, which spew a more toxic by-product.

He said the nuclear facility would save millions in government expenditures as well.

The cost-effectiveness of nuclear power was also substantiated by Ferdinand Dumlao, chairman of the Board of Directors of the Northwind Power Development Corp. (Northwind).

“For wind power plants to operate efficiently as a source of electricity, it must be complemented by a more reliable and dependable base load power plants, such as thermal plants – coal, oil, nuclear or big hydro plants,” Dumlao said in his letter to Cojuangco.

Dumlao said conventional base load power plants have capacity or utilization factor of 80-90 percent. On the other hand, utilization factor of wind power plants is between 25-30 percent.

An investment of $2.5 million to $3 million per megawatt is required to develop and construct a wind power plant, with additional costs incurred on land acquisition, road right-of-way and the cost of transmission line from the plant to the nearest grid connection.

Dumlao said a wind power plant can generate electricity two to three times cheaper than solar power.

Northwind was organized to develop wind power as a renewable, environment-friendly, and economically feasible source of energy in the Philippines.

Located in Bangui, Ilocos Norte, their project sells electricity to the Ilocos Norte Electric Cooperative (INEC) and provides 40 percent of the power requirements of the province of Ilocos Norte.–Delon Porcalla, Philippine Star

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