Gov't in talks with Korean firms for coal plant in Bataan

By Alvin Elchico, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 25 2014 04:18 PM | Updated as of Jun 26 2014 12:18 AM

MANILA, Philippines – The National Power Corporation (Napocor) said talks are progressing between the government and officials of Hanjin-Kepco for the construction of a coal-fired power plant within the Bataan nuclear power plant facility.

Napocor president Gladys Cruz Sta. Rita said the discussions are between the Department of Finance, Bases Conversion and Development Authority and the Korean companies.

Sta. Rita clarified that there is no decision yet on the matter.

She said the Korean firms' proposal was to build the coal plant not exactly beside the nuclear facility but within an acceptable distance.

She said the total land area of the Bataan facility is 390 hectares and the coal plant should be located at least 1 kilometer away.

When asked if this will attain social acceptability, Sta. Rita said, “Kung ma-realize nila, sino ba ang gusto ng brownout?", referring to the growing demand for electricity in the coming years side by side with economic growth.

But former Pangasinan Rep. Mark Cojuangco is opposing the construction of the 600-megawatt coal plant, insisting that it may pose technical complications for the eventual revival of the Bataan nuclear power plant.

"Ang dami-daming coal site, bakit itatabi mo mismo sa BNPP?" Cojuangco said, adding that a coal plant emits hundreds of tons of coal ash that contain heavy metals.

For Cojuangco, there is no space for a coal plant and its dumpsite within the Bataan facility.

Environmental group Greenpeace is also opposing the plan to put up a coal plant within the Bataan plant.

Greenpeace climate and energy campaigner Reuben Muni said the Bataan facility site lies on top of a quake fault and a dormant volcano.

"Bakit ka maglalagay ng energy plant sa isang lugar na posibleng magkalindol?" said Muni.

Greenpeace said the need for more energy supply can be answered by utilizing more renewable sources of energy such as solar and wind.

Greenpeace also opposed the revival of the nuclear plant explaining that the Philippines has not yet acquired a culture of safety to handle a dangerous source of energy like nuclear.