By JULLIE Y. DAZA
Why are some, or many, people scared of nuclear power?
Mostly because they think it means a powerful bomb that when it explodes spells the end of life, if not of the world.
Michael Shellenberger, a visiting environmentalist who was a Time magazine “Hero of the Environment,” hopes to convince President Duterte to let the Philippines “go nuclear” on the basis of convincing arguments and comparative data between countries using and not using nuclear energy. A long list of signatures of scientists, academics, and global citizens with impressive initials after their names is attached to his letter seeking an audience with the President.
It has been 40 years since our plant in Bataan was shut down with not a scratch to show for its noncommissioning. The only bad news since then has been the meltdown in Fukushima, “where no one died,” in the words of Mark Cojuangco, who told a session of Kapihan sa Manila Hotel that “I’ve been eating sashimi safely in Fukushima and other places in Japan.” A no-holds-barred advocate of nuclear energy when he was a congressman (for two terms), he kept quiet for three years to observe what consequences, if any, would follow the meltdown. When it was apparent that the Japanese were safe after Fukushima, Mark resumed his speaking tours and meetings with media groups.
He met Mr. Shellenberger in a chance encounter in the US and the two became fast friends, a nuclear fusion it was of like minds. They believe in the same things. That media needs to know and understand the truth. That nuclear energy is safe – no fire, nothing to burn, therefore no pollution – and cheaper than fossil fuel. A P50 billion plant (Korean-made) is only half the cost of coal imported for one year’s consumption. The uranium for a reactor is good for 18 months, the same size as a jeepney. It also translates to keeping 6 million Filipinos out of hospital, without dirty air in their lungs, for one year.
Our electric bills put us in the league of “rich” countries, where we belong as no. 16 among 43 others with expensive tastes in electricity. Even if the largest source of that is also the dirtiest, coal.
DOE is undecided, nuclear or unclear? The President has three years left in Malacañang. Should he decide today to go nuclear, it would take four years to get the Bataan plant going.