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Govt mulls opening Bataan nuclear power plant--energy chief

By TJ Burgonio
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 17:41:00 06/07/2008

Filed Under: Nuclear power, Energy & Resources, Energy, Electricity Production & Distribution

MANILA, Philippines -- The government is seriously studying the option of opening the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant to bolster the country's energy supply, Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes said Saturday.

Reyes said that a team from the International Atomic Energy Agency that inspected the power plant in Bataan months ago has reported that this could be rehabilitated in at least five years at a cost of $800 million.

?We intend to revisit this particular option,'' he said at the Sulo Hotel press forum, pointing out that the government spent $2.3 billion to build it without generating a kilowatt of electricity.

Reyes said it would take two years to undertake a feasibility study on the rehabilitation and another five years to rehabilitate the power plant. But he said it would take 15 years to build a new one.

?I have taken the position that we have to revisit the nuclear option because we don't want a situation where there will be power shortage,'' he later said in an interview.

The 630-megawatt plant built during under the Marcos regime was mothballed during the Aquino administration over safety concerns.

Greenpeace has constantly warned Reyes of the high costs and health risks of harnessing nuclear power, and reminded him to focus on getting the renewable energy bill approved by Congress and tapping renewable energy options.

The group has urged the government to avert the adverse effects of climate change by setting renewable energy targets, imposing a moratorium on the construction of coal-fired power plants, implementing strict energy-efficient standards, and drafting a program to reduce carbon emissions.

Reyes said the government would continue to seek ways of tapping renewable energy, but could not ignore the nuclear option.

?By all means, let's go renewable. Let's go alternative sources of fuel. But also, we can't have a situation where we do away with oil and coal, then we have blackouts, or we have shortage in power supply,'' he said.

Reyes had earlier forecast a power shortage by 2009.



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