BAYAN assails proposal to open mothballed Bataan nuclear plant

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 07 2008 07:07 PM | Updated as of Jun 08 2008 03:07 AM

Activist group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) on Saturday assailed a proposal by Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes to open the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant to solve the country's energy woes, saying the plant would cause more problems instead.

On Saturday Secretary Reyes said he is thinking of opening the supposed 630-megawatt power plant in Morong, Bataan, to add to the country's energy capacity.

Renato Reyes Jr., BAYAN Secretary General, said the government would only create another problem with the possible opening of the plant.

BAYAN's Reyes said the structural integrity of the plant is in question and the government would need to loan large sums of money to restore the plant to its operational state.

According to the Department of Energy roughly $800 million would be needed to jumpstart operations of the mothballed plant if the plan pushes through.

Secretary Reyes also said that long-term solutions that government could encourage is the development of renewable sources of energy such solar, wind, geothermal, hydro, ocean, and bio-mass.

Remove VAT instead

BAYAN’s Reyes said that he instead sees the removal of the Value-Added Tax (VAT) because it is the only thing that directly affects energy consumers.

He said the price of petroleum products would go down by P5-6, while electricity rates would be lowered by P0.70 per kilowatthour (kWh) once VAT is removed.

He added that if the rise in oil prices in the world market is only due to speculation the country should not be affected by it.

Lingayen-Dagupan Archibishop Oscar Cruz, meanwhile, said that he would need three conditions satisfied before he could be convinced to have the government open the nuclear power plant.

First, Cruz said, was to ensure the safety of operating the plant with consideration to the people’s safety especially the handling of radioactive waste from the plant.

He also said that foreign experts should be tapped for the operation and lastly, he said, public consultations should be launched to determine if the people would want to have the nuclear plant opened.

While the nuclear power plant was completed in 1984, questions were raised after probes revealed that thousands of defects were reportedly found. Activists have also raised that the nuclear power plant was built near a major earthquake fault.

The Philippine government sued US company Westinghouse who undertook the building of the $2.3 billion plant for alleged overpricing and bribery but was rejected by a US court.

The payment for debts incurred for the construction of the plant installation of a light water nuclear reactor became the country’s single external debt obligation until April 2007 when the debt payments were completed.