Statement of Nuclear Free Bataan Movement a member organisation of Philippine Movement for Climate Justice
BNPP Unsafe and Costly Power Source for PH– NFBM
We are alarmed that the Duterte administration, through its Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, is thinking of reviving the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant, which was mothballed in 1986, to boost the country’s power output.
Secretary Cusi claimed that “reviving the Bataan plant would beef up power reserves, lowering the risk of parts of the country being placed under yellow and red alerts as what happened in recent months,” considering that Malampaya, as he said, would be exhausted by 2022 or 2024. Earlier, Senate President Koko Pimentel, in his opening statement in a recent nuclear conference, said the country needs clean, cheap and reliable sources of energy and one alternative to fossil fuel is nuclear energy.
We have two major reasons for opposing the revival of the BNPP or even the use of nuclear power in the country—it is unsafe and it remains costly. These are the very same reasons that pushed particularly the people of Bataan and Central Luzon to successfully oppose its impending operation during the Marcos rule.
Energy Secretary Cusi admitted that the estimated overhead for reviving the BNPP is pegged at one billion pesos, though the basis of the figure is unclear, considering that the BNPP has been found to be tattered with more than 10,000 defects in its construction. Add to this the cost of importing uranium and the financing of viable storage facilities and waste disposal, not to mention the cost of decommissioning the plant at the end of its useful life. In the end, nuclear power is not at all a cheaper alternative.
This does not include the horrendous cost in terms of death, injury and illness and environmental destruction that a nuclear accident may cause in a country like ours. Even Senate President Pimentel admitted that there are “serious negative consequences with a country located in the Pacific Rim of Fire”.
We need only to look at Japan to see how a man-made nuclear disaster was precipitated by the disaster wrought by a tsunami and an earthquake.
Learn from Fukushima
The danger posed by using nuclear power plants has not diminished. Japan, with all of its advanced knowledge and technology, failed to cope with and prevent the meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi plant in 2011.
The International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale classifies the Fukushima Daiichi incident and Chernobyl (1986) as major nuclear accidents. These are events which involve major release of radioactive material with widespread health and environmental effects requiring implementation of planned and extended countermeasures
Let us not forget that a month after the tsunami and quake that led to the meltdown, Japanese nuclear authorities admitted to dumping more than 3 million gallons of contaminated water into the Pacific Ocean.
High levels of radiation has also been found in the food and marine life derived from the region. This ongoing tragedy has Japanese authorities mulling an underground ice wall to manage the leak in the damaged plant.
We echo the words of former Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan that nuclear power is unsafe and too expensive to build anywhere in the world.
We can only imagine the extent of devastation if a similar event occurs in the Philippines. No amount of technical expertise can enable us to cope with this worst case scenario.
Lastly, assuming that we really do have an energy gap, the way to address this is to tap our combined renewable energy potential of around 200,000 MW of wind, solar, hydro, biomass and geothermal energy, rather than be deceived by the myth that a power source that produces harmful radiation is ‘safe and clean’. Death and destruction accompany a costly nuclear plant.######