Published by rudy Date posted on March 18, 2011

I fully agree with Senator Santiago: “There are alarmist calls borne out of superstition and ignorance that we should stop all talk in operating the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant. Let us be very, very careful with our facts”.

The facts are that there have been only a few nuclear accidents. One was Chernobyl where some 32 people died. But Chernobyl can’t be included in an assessment because Chernobyl had no containment shell around the reactor. That shell is in all modern plants and means if there is a meltdown the radioactivity remains within the shell.

There’s the Three Mile Island accident which resulted in a meltdown. Luckily, no one died.

Now we have two plants in Japan on the way to a meltdown safely contained. No one will die.

These plants are 40 years old, they were soon to be closed down. More modern plants have greater safety features which ensure post shut-down cooling whatever the conditions. That’s a reason why reviving BNPP may not be sensible, but building new ones still would be.

We must keep things in perspective. There are some 440 nuclear plants in the world (55 in Japan). There have been failures, but only 10 in the past 32 years with outside of Chernobyl where failure was due to an experiment that went wrong, there have been only 38 deaths.

All human activities are fraught with some risk, you must just weigh the benefits versus the risks. An estimated 9,000 people die in motor car accidents in the Philippines per year, that’s some 288,000 in the past 32 years. We still ride in motor cars. Ships sail—and sinks. Planes occasionally fall out of the sky (which reminds me of a lovely submariner’s poster: There are more planes in the sea than submarines in the air). In the Philippines alone, more than 5,000 people have died in the past 32 years from ship accidents.

Nuclear power has huge benefits, it’s clean, it’s an almost unlimited resource, it’s low-cost and, it’s basically safe even when disaster hits. And you can be sure it’ll be even safer after these two meltdowns. A reason why we should think about new plant versus the revival of the Bataan plant.

Particularly as the Bataan plant sits on an earthquake fault line. I think a better location is needed. But I’d leave it to nuclear experts together with geologists to guide me. And this is the key bit, get experts to investigate and recommend. You don’t listen to a rabid fringe of ignoramuses. –Peter Wallace, Manila Standard Today

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