Angelo Reyes proposed allocating $800 million to put the 621-MW plant onstream, purportedly upon the recommendation of the IAEA. Then world oil prices plunged, and nothing further was heard about Reyes’ proposal.
Now the House panel approved a P100-million appropriation for the conduct of validation or feasibility studies on the rehabilitation and utilization of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP).
Furthermore, Cojuangco said his bill institutes a “validation process” that will either affirm or reject the soundness of rehabilitating and using the mothballed plant, with a provision that the BNPP be immediately demolished should the validation show adverse findings.
Do the government really need to spend that kind of money to revive the long mothballed junks?
Here’s my point of view and my calculation according with figures on my Chinese made calculator:
Direct costs concerning nuclear power can be summed up as the following: 1) construction costs, 2) operations and maintenance costs (including uranium fuel costs), 3) waste storage costs and 4) decommissioning costs. A detailed examination of these costs reveal that at all stages of a nuclear power plant’s lifetime and beyond (i.e. from its proposal to waste storage), nuclear power is a losing proposition for the Filipino people.
Historical and more current experiences of countries with existing nuclear programs show that nuclear power construction have gone consistently over-budget, two to three times higher than what the nuclear industry estimates. In India, the country with the most recent experience of nuclear reactor construction, completion costs for the last ten reactors have, on average, been 300% over budget . An assessment of 75 of the reactors in the United States shows estimated costs to have been USD45 billion, but actual costs to have reached USD145 billion . In Finland, the construction of a new reactor is already EUR1.5 billion over budget . HB 4631 pegs the cost of BNPP’s rehabilitation at USD1 billion, already the cost of a new power plant. Given past experience on nuclear plant overruns and delays, the BNPP’s age and documented defects, this cost, an estimate not actually provided by experts in the first place, may well be exceeded.
“The Bataan Nuclear Power Plant had four times the average [defects] for nuclear power plant construction. In addition, the earthquake and volcanic hazards of the site had never been satisfactorily resolved until today. It will be catastrophic, should the plant [be] operated,” Perlas told the congressman. But Cojuangco barred Perlas from further citing the Aquino-era study, saying he was merely spouting hearsay because neither he nor Congress had copies of the document.
In a statement distributed to reporters after the hearing, Perlas said the visiting experts concluded that the BNPP cannot be operated safely and efficiently. It appears that this study, on top of the Aquino administration’s aversion to any project from the previous Marcos era, provided the excuse not to use the power plant after its completion more than two decades ago.
However, even if it can be argued that the rehabilitation of the BNPP needs more study, the cost of getting the plant online after all these years is definitely prohibitive. And given the humongous amounts already spent for the Philippines’ all-time biggest white elephant, allocating even a peso more seems scandalous.
Why some people insist upon trying to revive the BNPP instead of, say, putting up a new nuclear power plant from scratch somewhere else remains a mystery. Perhaps, to end this three-decade fixation on a plant that never produced a single watt of electricity despite the billions spent to build and pay for it, the government should just dismantle the facility immediately.