By Ernie B. Esconde
MORONG, Bataan, Sept. 27 (PNA) — The Department of Energy (DOE) has considered the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) in Napot Point here as still safe but leaves to the people whether to rehabilitate it or not.
DOE Undersecretary Donato Marcos said an inter-agency core committee on nuclear energy composed of DOE, Department of Science and Technology and National Power Corporation, has been revived to study what is the clear policy direction of government regarding BNPP.
“DOE for its part has a standing and clear policy direction that BNPP is not only a power concern and energy issue but a national concern and issue. We want that it be submitted to a national consensus, possibly through a plebiscite,” the undersecretary said.
He said that the inter-agency group that was constituted in 2009 met Friday morning after it stopped functioning before 2011 when Fukusima nuclear plant in Japan exploded.
He said the interest of the people in nuclear energy declined because of the Fukusima tragedy.
“Now, people are seeing that nuclear energy is clean and so the possibility of opening BNPP into a nuclear plant or other options is under study. The important thing is that the Bataan plant is still here and so research although will take time will go on,” Marcos said.
He said that the revived committee is collating data gathered by the old committee since 2011.
“We are still in the process of study on what direction to decide and one undertaken is information dissemination and communication campaign to the people.
He said the inter-agency core group has started the information dissemination to the village where BNPP is located.
Marcos said the rehabilitation of BNPP was estimated to cost USD1 billion in four years.
He said constructing a new one needs USD7B to USD10B.
“BNPP can still be rehabilitated because more than 51 percent of nuclear power plants much older than BNPP are still operating. I think it is still safe because studies on it took 11 years,” the undersecretary said.
Former Tarlac congressman Mark Cojuangco said that the public has not heard much of nuclear energy.
“Nuclear energy has many benefits like cheap power, no greenhouse gases and carbon monoxide emission during operation. It has no pollution, no coal ash, heavy metals and other impurities in coal ash,” he said.
Cojuangco said it should be explained to the people that nuclear power is completely clean. He claims that commercial nuclear power is the safest source of electricity in the world.
Engr. Mauro Marcelo, Napocor department head, said electric power in Korea and other countries are cheap because of the use of nuclear energy.
“In 1986, BNPP was mothballed but we should not miss the opportunity now or else suffer massive brownout like in 1991. I think this plant is the only one that could turn electric power cheaper,” Marcelo said.
Napocor chief executive officer Maria Gladys Sta. Rita said government has settled its debt of USD2.3B corresponding to expenses in the construction of BNPP.(PNA)