Senators mixed on BNPP revival

By , on September 17, 2016


National Power Corp. asset preservation department manager Mauro L. Marcelo, Jr. (right with gesture) shows to Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, chair of the Senate Commitee on Energy, and journalists, the nuclear reactor (left photo) and other equipment of the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) in Morong, Bataan during the Senate occular inspection of the plant Friday (Sept. 16, 2016). (Photo: Jess Escaros Jr./PNA)
National Power Corp. asset preservation department manager Mauro L. Marcelo, Jr. (right with gesture) shows to Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, chair of the Senate Commitee on Energy, and journalists, the nuclear reactor (left photo) and other equipment of the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) in Morong, Bataan during the Senate occular inspection of the plant Friday (Sept. 16, 2016). (Photo: Jess Escaros Jr./PNA)

MANILA –Senators on Friday visited the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) to see for themselves if the mothballed plant had potentials for revival.

Senator and Chair of the Senate Committee on Energy Sherwin “Win” Gatchalian said that he was still not in favor of reviving BNPP even after inspection.

“We are for nuclear power because we see many advantages (from it) but the BNPP I am not too favor of this,” Gatchalian, Chair of the Senate Committee on Energy, told reports in an interview at the plant site in Morong, Bataan.

Gatchalian, who was accompanied by media to visit the BNPP, attend a seminar, led by former Pangasinan Representative Mark Cojuangco, which enumerated the advantages of nuclear power plants over other plants.

Cojuangco, in his presentation, explained that nuclear power plants were the safest type of power plants compared to wind, solar and coal-fired power plants which emitted more carbon dioxide and other poisonous heavy metals.

He said that nuclear power plants also required less capacity but provided cheaper power cost.

He meanwhile dispelled reports that the BNPP was not safe, noting that it is tsunami-proof since it is 18 meters above sea level.

Gatchalian, however, said that he would still prefer to construct a new nuclear power plant rather than revive the the 32-year-old plant since it would require almost the same cost.

The Department of Energy (DOE) earlier estimated that some Php 1.865 billion would be needed to revive the mothballed BNPP.

He also cited the controversies that arose in the construction of the BNPP which he described as “a very emotional issue.”

The BNPP is a project of the late President Ferdinand Marcos which cost USD 2.3-billion (PHP 108-billion) and was tagged anomalous.

In 2007, the Philippines completed the payment of the debt that had been used to fund the BNPP’s construction between 1976 and 1984.

Gatchalian’s committee mates, Senators Nancy Binay and Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito however said that they were both open to rehabilitating the BNPP.

“The first step is visiting the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant to see and discuss if it’s a potential source (of energy),” Binay said in a separate interview.

“It’s high time to finally decide what to do with the BNPP. We must remember that we continue to spend for this plant every year although it does not produce electricity,” she added.

Ejercito was more upfront in saying that he wanted the BNPP revived immediately after it receives safety certification to operate as it would lower the price of power and provide more jobs in the manufacturing sector.

“Maybe it only needs certification that it is safe. Either we operate it or we scrap it altogether,” Ejercito told reporters.

“For me, if we can revive the BNPP that would greatly change the game in the power sector. I think this can lower the price of power. In that way, investments would flow in,” he added.

He explained that the BNPP to date was the only power plant that would function 24/7.