By Chino S. Leyco
The Department of Finance (DOF) would oppose any plan to construct a new nuclear power plant without assessing the viability of the government’s mothballed facility in Bataan.
Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said it is rational for the government to examine first if it is still safe and economically beneficial to run the finished but unused $2 billion Bataan nuclear power plant (BNPP).
Following President Duterte’s signing of a memorandum of intent on nuclear energy with a Russian company, Dominguez said the government “should take a look at this [BNPP] plant and see if we can operate safely and economically.”
“It has been sitting there since the 70s. I’m okay looking at it because we spent $2 billion on that, hard-earned money, we just stopped paying recently after years and year and years. We should really seriously look at it,” Dominguez told reporters.
The finance chief explained that building BNPP with its capacity of 620-megawatts would now cost $10 billion, or roughly P516.26 billion, equivalent to one-year budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways.
“It has never generated a single watt power. That plant has a sister plant, exactly the same, in Slovenia which has been operating since the 1970s, so it must be a good,” Dominguez noted.
During Duterte’s recent visit to Moscow, the two countries sealed a memorandum of intent to jointly explore the prospects of cooperation for the construction of nuclear power plants in the Philippines.
But Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo clarified the document was just a “framework for discussion and not for a particular construction of a small modular reactor. The President wanted to study first the proposal.”
In October last year, Dominguez encouraged the Department of Energy (DOE) to “really study” the possible revival of the nuclear power plant in Bataan. Dominguez explained there was already the technology that will ensure the safety of the people and the area where the nuke plant is located.
The Philippines should have been way ahead on its nuclear power ambitions, but when the Bataan nuclear power plant was mothballed in the 1980s, that energy plan turned into shambles.
The prospect of repowering the controversial power plant is part o
f the designed policy of the DOE as part of the country’s eventual policy mix.
Supporters of the revival of the nuke plant already allayed fears that power facilities pose health hazards because of new developments in technology which has made it safer and clean.
Safety issues have been one of the top concerns of the public in general ever since the Bataan nuclear plant was mothballed in the 1980’s.