‘It’s a mistake not to run nuke plant’
Former Pangasinan Rep. Mark Cojuangco on Saturday said it was wrong for President Duterte not to operate the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP).
Cojuangco, a staunch nuclear energy advocate, said Mr. Duterte supported nuclear power during the election campaign but had reversed his position.
“It is a mistake not to push through with [operating the] BNPP,” Cojuangco said in a media briefing. “It will be difficult to defeat poverty if electricity rates are high and the supply is low.”
Mr. Duterte had expressed willingness to tap all energy sources to prepare for a power crisis but was also cautious about nuclear power.
The President nixed the option altogether on Monday, saying there will be no tapping of nuclear energy during his presidency.
He said there were no “really tight safeguards to assure there will be no disasters if there is a nuclear leak or explosion.”
Cojuangco said nuclear power is safe, cheap and the “cleanest energy, with zero ash and zero carbon dioxide emissions,” as proven by over 440 active power plants worldwide.
He said that according to a recent study by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, nuclear energy was a strong option to decarbonize by 2030 and could help limit global temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius, as agreed in the Paris climate pact that took effect on Friday.
Cojuangco said the unused power plant in Morong, Bataan province, shows no sign of wear and tear, and can withstand strong earthquakes. “A meltdown is perhaps a million-to-one probability,” he said.
“And if it does happen, it will be contained, unlike in the case of Chernobyl where it had no containment [for the radiation leak],” he said, referring to the 1986 disaster in Pripyat, Russia, one of the worst nuclear plant accidents in history.
Fears that it will be vulnerable to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions and the Chernobyl disaster prompted the government to mothball the power plant.
Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi has said the $2-billion BNPP, which was built 40 years ago, could still be operated.
The government spends P50 million annually to maintain it. The Department of Energy had estimated that $1 billion would be needed to operate the BNPP.
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