Bishops adamant: No to nuclear power
MANILA, Philippines—The church will not change its stand on the issue of reviving the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP), according to the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).
Balanga Bishop Ruperto Santos recently issued a pastoral statement stressing that his diocese would counter any plans to use nuclear power to generate electricity in the country, the CBCP website said.
“The Diocese of Balanga has decided… [we] are against this [move] and this stand will not change,” Santos said, citing the lobbying by some business groups in favor of nuclear energy to solve what energy officials say is a looming power supply crisis next year.
Santos said the Church’s position on the issue was researched and discussed before a decision was taken.
“The BNPP damages life, livelihood and nature. The BNPP is not the answer to the present needs of the people. No one is safe from the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant,” the prelate said.
He maintained the mothballed plant would endanger the lives of Filipinos.
Instead of reviving it, the diocese urged the government to focus on other alternatives for power generation that were safe and sustainable.
“Because life is so much more valuable to us than profit or money to be gained from cheap electricity or for the selfish needs of the body… We believe that energy can be generated from wind or from water (hydro) or from the sun (solar) that can be studied, tested or harnessed,” Santos added.
The late dictator Ferdinand Marcos built the 620-megawatt BNPP on government land at Napot Point in Morong.
Completed in 1983, it has not produced a single watt of electricity for Luzon even as the Philippine government spent $1.05 billion to build it. Taxpayers paid interest of over P1 billion for the BNPP until 2008, while the National Power Corp. paid P40 million yearly for its upkeep.
The late former President Corazon Aquino ordered it mothballed on the recommendation of experts who found several technical deficiencies.
Sen. JV Ejercito and former Rep. Mark Cojuangco, President Aquino’s cousin who is a staunch nuclear power advocate, were among those who had called on the government to consider using the BNPP to avert a power shortage in 2015.
The energy department had said the thinning power supply may be due to the looming El Niño phenomenon, the maintenance shutdown of the Malampaya natural gas plant, increased or continuing outages of power plants, and the delay in commissioning of committed power projects.
President Aquino has asked Congress to grant him the authority to contract additional capacity to address the looming power shortage during the summer, as granted to him under the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira).
Epira bestows emergency powers to the President “upon the determination by the President of the Philippines of an imminent shortage of the supply of electricity.”
“Congress may authorize, through a joint resolution, the establishment of additional generating capacity under such terms and conditions as it may approve,” Section 71 of the law reads.
Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali, House of Representatives committee on energy chair, on Thursday said the lower chamber aims to pass the joint resolution granting President Aquino emergency powers on Oct. 29.
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