Senate Energy Committee Chairman Win Gatchalian expressed caution about plans to revive the dilapidated Bataan Nuclear Power Plant, citing safety concerns and a lack of technological capabilities as critical issues that come hand-in-hand with the controversial plant, which has yet to produce a single megawatt of electricity since it was completed in 1984.
Gatchalian’s remarks came a day after Department of Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi put forward the possibility of refurbishing the plant and adding nuclear power to the Philippine energy mix.
“The Bataan Nuclear Power Plant is a rundown relic from an era long gone. Over three decades of innovation in nuclear energy separate it from modern nuclear power plants. The $1 billion investment it would take to refurbish the plant would be better spent on more feasible generation projects,” said Gatchalian.
Gatchalian explained that BNPP’s precarious location atop a geological fault line would make its revival a safety hazard for the entire Luzon island group.
Gatchalian also pointed to the nuclear plant’s outdated technology as a source of concern, explaining that newer power plant designs have taken into consideration the structural failures of older plants and are thus sturdier and more resistant to environmental stresses.
“At this point our country simply has not developed the necessary technical expertise to operate BNPP or any modern nuclear power plant in a safe and cost-efficient manner,” Gatchalian said.
However, Gatchalian added that he has not ruled out nuclear energy as a future part of the country’s energy mix, provided that nuclear energy advocates would be able to provide clear and detailed plans on how to develop nuclear energy in a safe and sustainable manner over the long-term.
“Admittedly, nuclear energy has the potential to be an efficient and clean source of baseload power compared to coal. We have to take a professional and data-heavy approach in analyzing the prospects of nuclear energy in the Philippines. When it comes to nuclear power, either you do it right or you don’t do it at all,” said Gatchalian.