Experts urge more studies on the opening of Bataan Nuclear Plant

  • December 18, 2016

TAGUIG CITY, Dec. 18 - In a forum organized by the Department of Science and Technology - National Academy of Science and Technology (DOST-NAST), experts recommended further studies before finally putting the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant into use.

Acd. Dr. Alfredo Francisco Mahar A. Lagmay, member of the Mathematical and Physical Sciences Division of NAST Philippines and Professor at the National Institute of Geological Sciences of the University of the Philippines Diliman (UP-NIGS) discussed the geological hazards of Southwest Natib Volcano. Lagmay stressed the importance of monitoring and studying the volcano’s activities thoroughly to come up with more precise scientific data to be used in determining the possibility of using the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP).

On the other hand, Dr. Bartolome C. Bautista, representing Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (DOST-PHIVOLCS) Director Renato U. Solidum, Jr. talked about the PHIVOLCS Current Hazards Information of the BNPP site. He outlined the different hazards in the area such as the active faults from the Manila Trench and Lubao Fault that must be studied further to collect substantial data in determining the risks involved. Bautista is DOST-PHIVOLCS deputy director.

From the engineering point of view, Engr. Carlos M. Villaraza, a structural-earthquake engineering consultant and principal engineer of Geohazard Structural Earthquake Engineering Design, discussed the seismic risk analysis of nuclear power plants. He focused on the various engineering designs to adapt to different risks and the different engineering interventions to ensure safety of structures relative to the strength of the earthquake.

Meanwhile, Dr. Carlo A. Arcilla, a professor at the UP-NIGS discussed faults, volcanoes, and nuclear waste disposal methods, one of which is the “deep borehole disposal concept drivers” being used by highly industrialized countries considered safe and environment-friendly.

Former Congressman and nuclear power advocate Mark O. Cojuangco likewise discussed his advocacy for the use of nuclear power as energy source. Cojuangco said that the BNPP has been certified to be safe and operational way back during the time of the late President Marcos and had undergone international standard tests for similar nuclear plants. He further stressed the economic gains in case the BNPP is re-commissioned, considering that the loans spent for BNPP has been fully paid already.   

In the end, the question remains, “Is it safe to use nuclear power like the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant for the benefit of the people?” Basing on the recommendations of forum resource persons, there is a need for more scientific studies in determining whether the BNPP should be used.

The mothballed BNPP was built during the administration of the late President Ferdinand E. Marcos and is now being considered for possible commissioning.

Once the BNPP is up and running, it is expected that electricity cost for consumers and commercial users will dramatically drop. However, there are other issues to consider such as safety and possible effect on the environment, experts said.

The forum, dubbed “Policy Forum on Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP): What is its Future?”, was held recently in Pasig City and organized by the Engineering Sciences and Technology Division of DOST-NAST, with Acd. Alvin B. Culaba as moderator. Acd. Fabian M. Dayrit, acting president of DOSt-NAST delivered the welcome remarks. 
Per Executive Order 818 s. 1982,NAST PHL serves as adviser to the President of the Republic of the Philippines and the cabinet on policies concerning science and technology in the country. In this forum, experts assessed the possibility of opening the BNPP from the point of view of scientists and engineers to ensure its safety and viability. This is done to allay fear of possible nuclear accidents like the Fukushima Dai-ichi in Japan on March 11, 2011.

The Fukushima accident was caused by a major earthquake and a 15-meterhigh tsunami that disabled the power supply (diesel-run generators) and all three cores largely melted in the first three days causing possible water contamination through radiation.

The forum highlighted the: 1) current state of BNPP; 2) viability of reusing the BNPP facility from the technical, economic, social, and environment perspective; and 3) presentations on some scientific studies on the BNPP. (DOST)

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