Environmental groups challenge PNoy to abandon nuclear program

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Contributed Photo

Contributed Photo
MANILA, PHILIPPINES – Environmental and climate activists protested the Aquino administration’s plan to construct nuclear power plants as an alternative energy source in the country. The protest was held simultaneously with the Philippine Nuclear Forum being held in the country from December 10 -11. The forum was organized by private corporations and the Philippine government.

Based on the Philippine Energy Plan 2007-2014, the government is thinking of re-commissioning the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP). In addition, it plans to construct four more nuclear plants, the earliest to be commissioned by 2015. Nuclear power is expected to provide about 3,000 megawatts in generation capacity for the Philippines, with total capacity building planned at 15,000 MW by 2018.

“Nuclear energy remains a very dangerous technology. The negative impacts of Chernobyl nuclear disaster are being felt until now by the local population more than two decades after the incident. It is too much risk for us to have nuclear power plants, considering the highly volcanic and tectonic characteristics of our islands. We cannot afford to have it here, it’s unsafe. Our experience with the defective BNPP is our living testimony to the danger of nuclear power in the country,” said Clemente Bautista of environmental activist group Kalikasan PNE.

Since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster which happened in Ukraine there have been more, at least 22 major nuclear power accidents happening all over the world. Several major nuclear accidents happened in Japan, United Kingdom, USA, Germany and Russia.

“Nuclear power is more expensive and is an unstable source of energy. It is not indigenous to the country and we need to import the uranium that feeds it. This will further increase our dependence on the importation of foreign energy sources that leads to higher power rates to be shouldered by the consumers and the Filipino people. The only way for it to deliver inexpensive electricity is for the government to subsidize private corporations operating the nuclear power, which again come from the pockets of the already burdened public. Plus, nuclear power has the highest decommissioning costs among power plants,” added Bautista.

A 2004 report by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission approximates the cost of decommissioning nuclear reactors to be about $300 million to $450 million. Moreover, studies have shown that countries with existing nuclear programs have consistently gone over-budget starting from the construction of the power plant itself, averaging by two to three times higher than what the nuclear industry estimates.

“The Bataan Nuclear Power Plant is the most expensive of all. The Filipino people eked out billions of dollars for it without getting a single wattelectricity from the plant,” Mr. Bautista added.

Foreign energy corporations see that there is over 2 billion dollars worth of opportunities for nuclear power portfolio in the Philippines.

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