Semirara Island can host nuclear plant, says gov't scientist

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 22 2019 03:36 PM | Updated as of Oct 22 2019 04:31 PM

Semirara Island can host nuclear plant, says gov't scientist 1
A maintenance technician walks near the storage tanks outside of the main reactor of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA -- Semirara Island in the central Philippines, home to a coal power plant, is a potential site for a nuclear power plant, a nuclear energy advocate said Tuesday.

It will be "fantastic" if the Consunjis, who run the coal plant, will operate the nuclear facility should it happen, Philippine Nuclear Research Institute director Carlo Arcilla said.

Sought for comment, Semirara Mining and Power Corp chairman Isidro Consunji said: "We have no objections. Whether it is practical, feasible or desirable, is something we haven't studied."

The Department of Energy said recently that it was studying the possible deployment of modular nuclear plants to island provinces. The Philippines has only one nuclear plant, located in Morong, Bataan, which has not been used since it was built in the 1980s.

"Island sya. Walang magrereklamo. Kung magka-accident man maliit lang ang effect. Tapos isolated," Arcilla told ABS-CBN News.

(It's an island. No one will complain. If ever there is an accident, it will have little effect. Plus, it's isolated.)

The Consunjis are "engineering people," he said. "It would be fantastic. Now we’re not mining we’re supplying cheap energy."

Environment group Greenpeace recently questioned the Philippines’ agreement with state-run nuclear energy firm Rosatom of Russia for a pre-feasibility study on nuclear plants.

"Dirty and dangerous energy has no place in the country’s sustainable energy scenario, particularly at a time when (renewable energy) is already proven to be the cheapest, safest and most reliable form of electricity generation," Greenpeace campaigner Khevin Yu said in a statement Monday.

Greenpeace said its research found that Rosatom and Rosneft Oil Co had "highly questionable safety records, problematic environmental impacts, vulnerability to corruption, and tremendous cost overruns."

Arcilla defended nuclear energy, saying it accounts for 20 percent of the world's energy sources with zero emissions.

"So if people are concerned about the environment, you should consider the only consistently zero emission source, which is nuclear," he said.

Japan, he said, kept its nuclear energy program despite the accident at its Fukushima plant.

Arcilla said he hoped to discuss the feasibility of nuclear energy with President Rodrigo Duterte. "Let’s not delve on emotions but on facts... Yun ang sasabihin ko kay Digong mura ang kuryente, walang brownout (That's what I'll tell Duterte, cheap power, no brownouts.)