Bataan Nuclear Power Plant gets no funds in 2013
No funds have been allotted for the upkeep of the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) in Malacañang’s budget proposal for 2013, but Energy Secretary Jose Rene Almendras said he would look for other ways to fund the maintenance of the facility, which he considers a government asset that cannot be neglected.
In a House panel hearing last week on the Department of Energy’s (DOE) proposed budget for next year, Nueva Vizcaya Rep. Carlos Padilla noted that the P25 million for the BNPP’s maintenance was not in the budget.
Almendras said the DOE had asked the national government for funds to maintain the idle power plant, but was refused.
“So now we’re looking [for funding sources]. My mandate to the National Power Corp. (Napocor) is to maintain this plant,” Almendras told the lawmakers. The Napocor oversees the BNPP.
“We cannot neglect this asset. We need to continue to hold it,” said Almendras, adding that the energy department could perhaps appeal for an additional allocation or tap into savings.
Almendras also said the DOE was not pulling out the BNPP’s security and was even trying to make some money by encouraging visitors to tour the facility.
Padilla wondered why the national government refused to fund the BNPP’s maintenance.
The congressman stressed the mothballed plant had to be maintained regardless of what the government would decide to do with it later, as it was a state asset.
“We’re not going to debate whether we are pronuclear or not, but the point is it’s an asset of the government. Whether we sell it later or not, the point is it’s still ours so we need to maintain it,” he said.
Padilla suggested Napocor might make do with a smaller amount, like P15 million instead of P25 million, for the maintenance.
There have been proposals in Congress to revive the BNPP, but these have yet to prosper.
There have also been suggestions to convert the BNPP to a coal-fired power plant, but Almendras noted earlier that the BNPP was not the best site for such a facility. He said the power plant could not handle the fuel. Leila B. Salaverria
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