Limlingan: Junk the revival of BNPP

THE government recently gave the green light for the rehabilitation and eventual operations of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) in Morong, Bataan. Energy experts who have assessed the expenses needed for the said rehabilitation and said that at least P1 billion is needed for such.

President Rodrigo Duterte has already gave the orders for the release of the said amount and the go signal to start the rehabilitation of the BNPP.

For many years now, the BNPP since its construction remains to be a white elephant. It has yet to operate and due to various oppositions on its operation, it is an idle government property that is inutile for many years.

It can be recalled that the BNPP was one of the pet projects of former President Ferdinand Marcos during his reign. However, his presidency was cut short by the People Power Revolution in 1986 and the late strongman was then deposed to Hawaii until his death. Eventually, his remains were returned to the country after some years in the said US territory in the Pacific.

Since the time Marcos was deposed, there were already several Presidents of the country that served Filipinos. Sadly, the BNPP was never commissioned and never put to action due to protests, citing threats of any nuclear accident and pollution that the nuclear power plant may get into

The BNPP could have solved the country’s energy crisis and the high cost of electricity in the Philippines. As per statistics, we Filipinos have one of the costliest electric power that is used in households, factories and commercial establishments.

If only it operated then, the BNPP could have generated thousands of megawatts, more than enough to energize the country. Millions of Filipinos could have saved a lot from the low cost of electricity generated from the nuclear power plant.

Since I was still a student, the BNPP has been the subject of debates whether it should still be revived and operate or not. For some, they would rather take the risk and have the BNPP generate power. For those who are against its rehabilitation, they cite possible nuclear accidents as their main reason for their opposition to the BNPP.

In other countries, they set the Chernobyl nuclear accident in Russia and the Fukoshima in Japan as the examples of what we might experience in the country should the BNPP be revived.

I am not an expert on nuclear energy. However, with the way I understand the accidents in the said countries after reading the accounts, the overheating of the nuclear reactor could mean a great explosion and the contamination of the environment with nuclear radiation. Further, and any leak on the nuclear wastes can also spell disaster, regardless how little is the amount of the leak.

As a layman’s suggestion on the BNPP, we might just convert it into a power generation plant but with a different mode aside from the nuclear source of power. The government might as well convert it into a coal-fired or diesel-fired power plant which as far safer and equally reliable as sources of electric power.

The vastness of the land where the Nuclear facility sits in Morong town can be laid with solar panels and “windmills” that can likewise generate electricity. The latter examples are even called clean energy sources as they produce no waste. Technically, they are also called renewables thus would not the supply of now-renewable energy sources such as coal or crude oil.

With the funding that was now ordered released, the government should initially consider first on conducting a study on the alternative functions of the BNPP aside from its construction as a source of nuclear energy.
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