Monday, May 23, 2011

Operation of Bataan nuclear plant pushed

Philippine Star
By Punto Central Luzon Home Updated May 23, 2011 03:51 PM 
The mothballed BNPP in Morong town comprises the nucleus of new tourism package that include nearby beaches, the Pawikan center and the Blessed John Paul II shrine at the site of the former refugee processing center. (PUNTO)
MORONG, Bataan – A National Power Corporation (NPC) official expressed dim hope that the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) would operate but insisted that nuclear energy is “safe and very reliable.”
NPC Department Manager Mauro Marcelo Jr., who toured Pampanga journalists at the BNPP facility at Nato Point here on Sunday, disclosed that President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino “doesn’t like the BNPP because it’s old but he may like a new and modern nuclear facility.”
Marcelo said the national government needs at least $1 billion for the rehabilitation of the BNPP designed by the US-based Westinghouse Corporation. The BNPP costs $2.3 billion and the payment to Westinghouse was completed by the government in 2007, almost 30 years after the construction was completed. 
Marcelo also said they welcomed “visitors and tours” to educate the people about the advantages of using nuclear energy powered by Uranium.
Department of Tourism (DOT) Regional Director Ronnie Tiotiuco organized the media familiarization tour to promote the BNPP as a “tourist spot.”
The NPC official said nuclear energy does not contribute to global warming unlike Coal-fired power plants which are heavily used in the country.
Marcelo cited studies showing that the Uranium supply in the world can last for 230 years. He added that its supply is scattered in almost all the continents.
“It’s not like oil that is concentrated in the Middle East and Arab nations. Besides, studies show that oil supply can last for only 40 years,” said Marcelo, who has 13 NPC personnel based at the BNPP.
“God gave us Uranium so that we can use it,” added Marcelo.
Discovered in 1789, Uranium is a radioactive heavy metal rich in nuclear energy.
The national government earlier purchased $60 million worth of uranium and fuel for the BNPP but later disposed it for about $27 million “just to get rid of the nuclear supply in Philippine lands,” disclosed Dennis Gana, NCP corporate communications manager.    
The late President Corazon Aquino was contemplating on operating the BNPP in 1986 but the Ukraine-based Chernobyl Nuclear Facility disaster in the same year forced her to forgo any plans to use the plant.
But Marcelo said the BNPP is designed to have three loops to ensure the safety of its use. Its design was patterned after the nuclear plants in South Korea, Brazil and Slovenia “which are operating well and without a problem until today.”
The BNPP uses pressurized water reactor designed by Westinghouse.
Marcelo said the nuclear plant in Fukushima, Japan which met a disaster recently, had not used the same design used by Westinghouse at BNPP.
“Basically, the General Electric-made Japan facility has only two loops unlike ours. The BNPP is also more modern than the ones in Japan,” Marcelo said. 
The NPC said that nuclear energy would drastically decrease the cost of electricity in the country because power generation is “way low” compared to generating power from coal and geothermal plants.
Marcelo said there are 436 nuclear plants in the world, most of which are in USA and France.
“Maybe there are 435 now after the Fukushima plant tragedy,” said Marcelo in a jest.
Marcelo said the problem at Fukushima got worst after the four cooling facilities had failed.
“The two cooling facilities got no power after the earthquake. Then the two were damaged by water spawned by the tsunami,” said Marcelo.
He stressed that the BNPP is 30 meters above sea level unlike the Fukushima plant which is only 4 meters above sea level.
“Only the strongest ever earthquake can trigger a tsunami that can flood the BNPP, but it may still not because it’s really high,” he said.
Citing studies of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs), the some 360-hectare area of the BNPP is “not in an Earthquake fault line.” (Joey Pavia)

No comments:

Post a Comment