Scientists want faults, volcano near nuke plant studied
Filipino scientists are recommending an extensive study of active and suspected faults as well as the potential eruption of a volcano surrounding the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP), which the Duterte administration plans to revive to meet the country’s energy needs.
Dr. Bartolome Bautista, deputy director of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs), proposed setting up a network of at least four seismic stations around the BNPP site to detect faint earth tremors from Mt. Natib and from suspected faults in the vicinity.
“We are suggesting that in order to study the microseismicity from Mt. Natib, we deploy seismic stations around the BNPP site … That’s the only time we can clearly ascertain all those suspected faults present,” said Bautista at the recent policy forum on BNPP hosted by the National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST).
The NAST, an attached agency of the Department of Science and Technology, is designated by law by virtue of Executive Order 818 in 1982 to advise the President and his Cabinet on policies concerning science and technology in the country.
At the forum, Bautista discussed the current hazards of the BNPP site, noting that the area is surrounded by volcanoes, with Mt. Natib as the nearest.
He pointed out that Mt. Natib’s eruption history was uncertain, which made it necessary to carry out a detailed magmatic or eruptive history defining eruption recurrence rates to be able to assess volcanic risk.
“Earthquake risks should be reviewed based on available information versus engineering design/construction [of the BNPP facility],” he said.
He also said public understanding was important in distinguishing between active faults with potential earthquake threats against presumptions of possible faults and ground eruption as against ground shaking hazards.
In discussing the geological hazards of Mt. Natib, Dr. Alfredo Mahar Lagmay cited studies and calculations showing that the volcano had “credible potential for future eruption.”
Lagmay also said that the effects of hazards to the BNPP site—such as lava flow, pyroclastic flows and lahar—in case of eruption of Mt. Natib could not be mitigated by measures for design and operation, following the guidelines of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
He said there was a need for a thorough investigation of the hazards at the BNPP site, noting that the facility was constructed “way before our understanding of volcanoes came about.”
Aside from Mt. Natib, the Manila Trench—one of the five active faults surrounding the BNPP site—could also cause “severe hazard” to the facility, Bautista said in his presentation.
The trench is located west of the country and runs as deep as 5,400 meters.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.