November 14, 2016
QUEZON CITY – Civil society organizations and environmental advocates expressed alarm at the administration's plan to revive the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP).
Responding to Department of Energy Alfonso Cusi's revelation of the president's green light for the project, Sanlakas Secretary-General Atty. Aaron Pedrosa raised problems of environmental safety and sustainability that attached to reviving and maintaining nuclear power plants.
"The revival of the BNPP is an environmental disaster waiting to happen," claimed Pedrosa. "A nuclear plant, especially one in the Philippines, carries with it a number of hazards whose effects could prove irreversible for a developing country like ours."
"First and primary of these effects are the inevitable nuclear waste produced by nuclear power reactors," explained Pedrosa.
"This type of waste, being radioactive, poses a threat to the biological integrity of the environment in which it is emitted. Historically, we know the unpredictability of both the degree and the length that effects of harmful radiation have on those who are exposed to it," said Pedrosa.
"Moreover, given how a nuclear power plant by itself proves to be dangerous, our geographical location along a typhoon belt and the Ring of Fire threatens to exponentially magnify the risks of reviving this nuclear plant," added Pedrosa.
Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development (CEED) Convenor Gerry Arances cited the case of Fukushima I Power Plant in Fukushima, Japan, which on 2011 saw a nuclear meltdown and release of harmful radioactive material after the country was hit by a tsunami-triggered earthquake.
"The Philippines' sudden move towards nuclear energy is baffling given how it is a country that is less technologically equipped than but similarly vulnerable to environmental disasters as Japan, a developed country which has started to move away from nuclear power," said Arances.
Arances claimed that nuclear energy poses more risks than it offers any energy or environmental benefit, citing the country of Germany as another developed country pulling the plug on nuclear energy shortly after the Fukushima disaster.
"It must serve as a warning to the administration that even developed countries, which are more capable than the Philippines in sustaining nuclear power plants and mitigating the environmental risks that they pose, have started phasing out nuclear energy," added Arances.
Arances also claimed that pursuing nuclear energy is laden with faulty economics.
"For one, the direct costs of operating, maintaining, and waste management that come with sustaining a nuclear power plant have historically put a strain on the national budget of countries with existing plants," said Arances.
Arances claimed that costs of power plants are almost consistently more than that estimated by the nuclear industry, causing the respective national governments adopting nuclear power to let its nuclear power facilities heavily rely on state subsidies and massive loans, as in the case of India and Finland.
"Nuclear power plants also come with the risk of making the Philippines dependent on uranium-rich countries for fuel," added Arances.
"Nuclear energy is a result of heat generated through the fission process of atoms, which is fueled by uranium, a resource abundant only in a number of countries. To sustain the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant and other possible nuclear power plants would be to depend on uranium-rich countries," Arances said.
Arances instead urged the Duterte administration to turn towards indigenous renewable energy sources instead of costly, deadly and dirty energy sources.
"Based on the DOE's Philippine Energy Plan, the share of renewables in the country's energy supply is set to plummet while reliance on dirty sources like coal will increase until 2030," Arances pointed out. "A more sustainable energy and development path would be pursued if we start tapping into the vast renewable energy of the Philippines, amounting to 200,000 MW of clean energy," he added.
Furthermore, Pedrosa condemned the revival of the BNPP despite the history of contentions attached to the plant.
"The construction of the BNPP, a result of the $2.3 billion loan secured by the late Dictator Marcos, was greenlit in 1976 and finished in 1984 despite overwhelming condemnation by local communities and civil society at the time," said Pedrosa.
"Reviving the failed and costly project is an affront not only to those who will suffer the problems which it will cause, but an affront to those who have stood up against it decades ago," stated Pedrosa.
"It was wrong to greenlight it then; it is wrong to insist upon it now," he concluded.