Phivolcs: Bataan Nuclear Power Plant on safe ground

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 16 2018 04:04 PM | Updated as of Nov 29 2018 02:55 PM

The Bataan Nuclear Power Plant in Bagac is surrounded by wide roads and an elevated landscape to mitigate nuclear accidents. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The mothballed Bataan nuclear power facility being considered for operation to supply the country's increasing energy needs is on safe ground, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said. 

Speaking on the sidelines of a signing ceremony with the Department of Energy, Phivolcs Director Renato Solidum allayed concerns over the safety of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) if government's plan to use the facility pushes through. 

Built in the 1970s, the facility has remained shut over concerns about its proximity to Mt. Natib, a dormant volcano. 

But Solidum said possible hazards that the plant may encounter are limited to minimal ground shaking, which can be mitigated.

Solidum dismissed several possible hazards on the plant's location such as a volcanic eruption, saying Mount Natib is no longer active.

"And all of these investigations we have, wala po talaga," he said.

He added that assessments show the plant is far from any fault lines and is built on a solid foundation of hard rock.

The plant is also unlikely to suffer from landslides or tsunamis since it is built on a flat surface 80 meters above sea level.

"In terms of the hazard, shaking na lang ang natitira, pero kung na-design at na-construct nang tama, hindi 'yun dapat maapektuhan," he said.

"So if you conclude based from what I said, then it is... remember, hazards can be mitigated lalo sa ground shaking. Hindi po 'yun delikado, safe po siya," he added.

Commissioned by deposed strongman Ferdinand Marcos, the 620MW plant came with the promise of steady and cheap power, until its opening was scuttled by domestic and global events.

The Duterte administration has raised the possibility of opening the plant, which it eyes to add nuclear power to the country's energy mix.

Last year, nuclear experts from Russia and Slovenia flew to the Philippines to assess the possibility of rehabilitating the plant.

Environment groups have repeatedly raised concern over the safety of the plant, which fronts Manila Bay. Officials, however, argue, that the plant is strong enough to withstand impact from a Boeing 747.

Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi reiterated that the government maintains a "technology neutral" stance.

"We are not against or pro any technology. We look at it, we look at all technologies as an option in providing power that is sustainable and can really help the country move forward," he said.

Solidum and Cusi led Friday's signing of a memorandum of agreement on the use of the Rapid Earthquake Damage Assessment System (REDAS), a software that generates real-time simulated quake hazard information in aid of preparation and response. The energy department is adopting the technology to improve disaster resilience of its energy facilities. 

-- report from Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News