“It’s worth considering. One of the weaknesses of the Philippine economy, aside from infrastructure, is the high cost of energy,” Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito said. Philstar.com/File Photo

Senator wants Bataan Nuclear Power Plant revived
Marvin Sy (The Philippine Star) - April 1, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The government should seriously consider reviving the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) so it could provide cheaper electricity to consumers, Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito said yesterday.

“It’s worth considering. One of the weaknesses of the Philippine economy, aside from infrastructure, is the high cost of energy,” Ejercito said.

He made the suggestion after the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) declared that the ground on which the BNPP stands is safe.

Ejercito noted how strong economies such as China have seen the potential of nuclear power and have undertaken massive building of nuclear plants.

Phivolcs director Renato Solidum recently vouched for the safety of the area where the BNPP is situated, allaying fears that an earthquake or eruption of the nearby Mount Natib could lead to a catastrophe.

Apart from minimal ground shaking in the event of an earthquake, Solidum said there are no other foreseeable hazards that could undermine the BNPP.

Solidum noted that Mount Natib is no longer active and that the BNPP is built on a solid foundation.

Ejercito, who was part of a group of senators who visited the BNPP in September 2016, clarified that safety should always be a priority in considering the operation of a nuclear plant.

“But in this day and age, most developed countries are using nuclear energy. China is building 50 nuclear power plants,” Ejercito said.

In terms of cost of power, Ejercito pointed out that nuclear energy would go a long way in bringing down power rates for consumers in the country.

Based on the current average power generation rate in the country, Ejercito noted that consumers are charged P5 per kilowatt hour.

Nuclear power, on the other hand, would cost a mere P1.80 to P2.50 per kwh, Ejercito said.

The prospect of reviving the BNPP has generated conflicting opinions from other senators, including Sherwin Gatchalian, who heads the Senate committee on energy.

At a recent forum, Gatchalian said he was not in favor of reviving the BNPP as it has been idle for the past 40 years and there are newer and safer technologies now available.

Gatchalian also said a nuclear plant is a natural target of terrorism. “Considering the limitations of our military and our police force I think we should shy away from high-risk fuel sources such as nuclear,” he said.

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