The Folly of BNPP and Nuclear Power

Is it safe?

Before we get into any involved debate on this issue again, there is one basic question we have to answer: IS IT SAFE?

Now, more than 30 years after the nuclear power plant was constructed, a new initiative led by no less than the legislator-son of a top Marcos dictatorship crony, has again embroiled the Philippine Congress to commission the operation of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant. These people should know that nuclear power plants only have a 30-year old lifespan, and now they want to re-start a 30-year old nuclear power plant? Is it really very hard for some people to resist the temptation of a gargantuan contract in such an expensive project? In recent months, and days, negotiated contracts have been the subject of endless public hearings in the halls of Congress, and the public perception is strong that out of these multi-million contracts, certain public officials, their relatives and friends, are filling up their pockets at the expense of taxpayers.

They invoke the Constitution’s prohibition of nuclear weapons on our territory in the BNPP Commissioning Act, and yet do they not realize that nuclear energy from nuclear power reactors is the first major step in the development of nuclear weapons? They invoke environmental concerns such as toxic gas emissions and climate change, and yet do they know that up to now nobody knows how to dispose of the more or less 20 tons of high-level radioactive nuclear waste that a 620-megawatt reactor will produce annually.

Will cost more

Of course the nuclear scientists and engineers who rely on the nuclear industry for a living will tell us that science and technology will take care of everything. But they know that even until now the decommissioning of nuclear plants with a normal lifespan of only 30 years will even cost more than its construction, as a decommissioned nuclear plant with its radioactive wastes will continue to pose risks to health and safety of the people, as well as threats to the environment. We will need at least 20-25 years to develop the necessary scientific and technological infrastructure and national capability to operate a commercial nuclear power plant to respond to nuclear accidents, plant upgrades, repairs and maintenance, nuclear waste disposal, and other related problems.

U.S. nuclear engineer Robert Pollard who did his own inspection of the BNPP in the early 1980s after the Three-Mile Island accident in the United States then concluded that the BNPP is not safe since it used an old design plagued with unresolved safety issues, making it a potential hazard to the safety and health of the public.

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