Home

A lawmaker has expressed concern over the looming possibility of reviving the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP), saying the mothballed power facility has “no place in the future of Philippine nuclear energy.”

Sen. Sherwin T. Gatchalian, also the chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy, said he welcomes the cooperation deal between the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Russian Federation State Atomic Energy Corp. (Rosatom).

Last week the DOE and  Rosatom signed a memorandum of cooperation (MOC) during the 12th East Asia Summit in Manila.

“The partnership forged between the DOE and Rosatom signifies the start of a new chapter for the prospects of nuclear energy in the Philippines. I welcome this opportunity for our country’s energy experts to gain more knowledge and craft strong regulatory frameworks as we seek to build a comprehensive national nuclear-energy policy,” Gatchlian said.

But the lawmaker is lukewarm to the possibility of reviving the mothballed plant.

“I remain cautious about the proposal to revive the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant. The controversial 40-year-old plant is a remnant of the failed nuclear-energy policies of the past. It has no place in the future of Philippine nuclear energy,” he said.

The DOE-Rosatom cooperation will be implemented in the form of joint working groups that will undertake specific projects and tasks, exchange of experts, workshops, training and education of personnel  and sharing of technical information.

The MOC will run for five years, and is renewable for the same period, unless one notifies the other in writing through diplomatic channels of its intention to suspend or terminate the same.

Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi said the undertakings in the MOC would support the Philippines in coming up with a national position and the crafting  of a nuclear-energy policy that may lead to a nuclear energy program.

The Philippines and Russian Federation will cooperate in several areas under the agreement.
These include the following:

Nuclear infrastructure studies toward national energy policy development and nuclear-energy program implementation in the Philippines;

Audit and assessment of BNPP’s technical condition, including the option of its rehabilitations and,

Feasibility studies on construction in the Philippines of small modular nuclear-power plants, onshore or offshore, but not limited to analysis of technical, commercial, financial and legal aspects.

Both may also carry out similar studies on nuclear-power plants in general as may be deemed necessary and consistent with national energy development plans and policies of the Philippines.

The Philippines and the Russian Federation are members of the International Atomic Energy Agency and are parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons of July 1, 1968.

The 620-megawatt (MW) BNPP is the country’s first and only attempt at nuclear-power development. It was supposed to be the first of two nuclear plants to be built in the northern province of Bataan. It was also the first nuclear-power plant in Southeast Asia, and was identified as a solution to the 1973 oil crisis that had adversely affected the global economy, including the Philippines.

The project, however, was mothballed in the wake of the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. But clamor for the commissioning of the BNPP was revived during the power crisis in the 1990s and the skyrocketing oil prices in 2007.

During these periods, the DOE actually came close to reconsidering nuclear power as a potential energy source for the country.

But then the Fukushima nuclear-plant incident happened in 2011, creating global panic and concerns about the safety and integrity of nuclear plants.

Reference:

Lectura, L. (November 21, 2017). ‘No place for BNPP in PHL’s nuclear power development program’. Business Mirror. Retrieved from https://businessmirror.com.ph/no-place-for-bnpp-in-phls-nuclear-power-development-program/

DOE Website Feeds