No fault beneath Bataan plant–agencies

Published by rudy Date posted on April 8, 2009

Three government agencies attest that there is no active faultline beneath the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant, or within the BNPP area, supporting claims that there is no danger in reviving the mothballed nuclear plant.

Findings of the three agencies—Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology-Department of Science and Technology, Mines and Geosciences Bureau-Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the National Institute of Geological Sciences—bolstered a pending motion of Rep. Mark Cojuangco of Pangasinan that recommis­sioning the nuclear power plant would pose no danger to surrounding areas.

“Based on the current Active Faults Map of the Philippine Institute of Volcanolgy and Seismology and a comprehensive review of satellite images and topographic maps, we find no evidence to support the presence of an active fault beneath the nuclear reactor building of the BNPP or within the BNPP area,” the institute’s director, Renato Solidium Jr., wrote in a letter to Cojuangco.

A complementary review of the institute’s archived geological reports and existing field data, moreover, made no mention of an active fault beneath the site.

The agencies defined an 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.”

A similar review done by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau on the site geology of nuclear power plant, complemented by analysis of existing topographic maps and satellite images, revealed that the area is underlain by pyroclastic deposits, agglomerates and volcanic ashes and “does not indicate the presence of a fault.”

Furthermore, a survey conducted by Dr. Carlo Arcilla, Director and Associate Professor, National Institute of Geological Sciences, and Dr. Mario Collado, Master of Science, using four lines of two-dimensional electrical resistivity for geotechnical study of the plant yielded the same result.

Bataan plant revival

Cojuangco enlisted the assistance of the three government agencies, particularly the Science and Technology and Environment departments to allay fears of critics that reviving the power plant is unsafe.

Saying that he was not against other renewable sources of energy, he reiterated that nuclear power is not only safe, but more earth-friendly—as compared with coal-fired plants, which spew a more toxic by-product—and will save millions in government expenditures as well.

The cost-effectiveness of nuclear power was further substantiated by Ferdinand Dumlao, a lawyer and the chairman of the Board of Directors of the Northwind Power Development Corp. (Northwind), who said that wind power plants “are not stand-alone plants because of the natural characteristic of wind velocity and availability which is erratic, variable and seasonal.”

“For wind power plants to operate efficiently as a source of energy or electricity, they 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.

He added that conventional base load power plants have capacity or utilization factor of 80 percent to 90 percent. On the other hand, utilization factor of wind power plants is between 25 percent to 30 percent.

Wind power

Dumlao said 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 for land acquisition, road right-of-way and cost of transmission line from the plant to the nearest grid connection.

Currently, he added, a wind power plant is still 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 province, north of Manila, it sells electricity to the Ilocos Norte Electric Cooperative and provides 40 percent of the power requirements of the province. –Frank Lloyd Tiongson, Reporter, Manila Times

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