Risks cited in plans to reactivate Bataan Nuclear Power Plant

ALTHOUGH reactivating the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) will significantly boost the power supply in the country, a key industry player believes there are risks involved should it be pursued.

“My concern with the plant is that if someone wants to come in and operate the plant, that person is risking that capital,” said Aboitiz Power chief operations officer (COO) Luis Miguel Aboitiz, when the concern was raised by local stakeholders during the Mega Cebu energy forum on Thursday.

Aboitiz added that if the BNPP is reopened and subsidized, it would be competing with merchant plants.

For Metro Cebu Development Coordinating Board (MCDCB) communications manager Carol Ballesteros, it’s the “fear” of becoming the next Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan that has discouraged stakeholders to consider the Philippines’ own nuclear power plant.

It can be recalled that the Fukushima powerplant suffered major damage in 2011 when a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami caused the release of radioactivity, which continues to this day.

“Japanese are experts of that (nuclear powerplant) and we are not. But they still faced that problem,” Ballesteros said.

Recently, the Department of Energy (DOE) announced they are reviewing the possibility of reviving the 620-megawatt (MW) BNPP, which was supposed to operate in 1986. However, this was stalled due to strong opposition from environmental and cause-oriented groups over safety concerns and reports that former president Ferdinand Marcos received some $80 million in kickbacks from the powerplant builder.

In another development, Aboitiz said the 340 MW coal-fired powerplant of Therma Visayas Inc. is halfway in its development. The power plant is expected to go online by 2017.

At present, AboitizPower maintains an energy mix of 38 percent renewable and the rest from fossil-based sources. To date, AboitizPower and its partners produce 3,350 MW of total net sellable capacity.

By the end of the year, AboitizPower looks forward to launch its first foray into biomass with the 8.8 percent MW Aseagas facility in Lian, Batangas.
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