‘Noy won’t back BNPP opening’

Published by rudy Date posted on March 18, 2011

MANILA, Philippines –  President Aquino will not support the revival of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP).

“As of today, no,” Science Secretary Mario Montejo said when asked if Aquino would support resolutions in the House of Representatives seeking the revival of the BNPP.

Earlier, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said Aquino had always expressed concern over safety issues in operating nuclear power plants.

The government does not have any plans to use the BNPP, particularly in light of the dangers posed by the continuing crisis at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan, administration officials said.

Montejo, however, defended his position supporting the restoration of the BNPP.

“Personally, I am for the nuclear power plant even if this (nuclear accident) happened. I look at it as a technical problem that therefore needs a technical solution,” he said.

“But we have to validate. I don’t know about the expenses, if it is still viable to restore it. But technically, it is viable.”

Rodriguez hits Montejo

Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez hit Montejo yesterday for continuing to support the the BNPP’s opening.

“I think that statement (backing proposals to make BNPP operational) is insensitive to the present situation,” he said.

“He (Montejo) should not have said that. This statement is uncalled for.”

Rodriguez said even proponents in the House of Representatives have said they have put on hold their bills seeking to activate the BNPP.

Developed economies dependent on nuclear energy have already began reviewing their power policies in light of the disaster in Japan, he added.

Germany has already decided to phase out all their nuclear facilities by 2020, Rodriguez said.

Montejo claimed the BNPP was constructed to withstand earthquakes and tsunamis.

“From the technical side, the BNPP has also a containment chamber,” he said.

“So, that makes it similar (to nuclear power plants in Fukushima) but it uses a higher, a different kind of technology even better than the one in Japan,” he said.

Montejo said the design load for earthquakes of the BNPP is more reliable.

“So our BNPP has better design for earthquake,” he said.

BNPP, a museum?

A top official of the National Power Corporation (NPC) sees the BNPP’s conversion into a museum for engineering students and a tourist destination.

Engineer Mauro Marcelo Jr., head of the group maintaining the BNPP, said engineering students can see for themselves the actual details of a nuclear plant.

Dismantling the BNPP would be a difficult and costly task because it was designed to withstand extreme situations, he added.

However, former lawmaker Mark Cojuangco strongly opposes the total abandonment of the BNPP.

“It would be the saddest part of history when the BNPP, which has cost a lot of money and now fully paid by the government, would go to waste,” he said.

Cojuangco said for the moment he has declared a self imposed moratorium on his crusade in respect to the fears and apprehensions of people over the events in Japan.

However, the BNPP’s revival is the key to the full development of the country as this will address the energy needs of incoming industries, he added.

Marcelo said the BNPP has been attracting visitors, mostly students and local tourists.

“Thousands of visitors have visited the plant in Morong town,” he said.

Marcelo said studies have been presented regarding the use of  the BNPP in case government decides to abandon it.

Among them is the transformation of the facility into a natural gas operated facility, he added.

The government is spending at least P40 million a year to maintain the BNPP, Marcelo said.

Built during the Marcos administration, the BNPP was completed in 1984 at a cost of $2.3 billion.

It was mothballed when Corazon Aquino was president after a team of international experts declared it “unsafe and inoperable.”

The BNPP was built near major earthquake fault lines and close to dormant volcanoes, according to experts. – Helen Flores, Paolo Romero, Perseus Echeminada, (The Philippine Star)

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