BNPP in ‘good condition’ for $1-B rehab cost – study

By Myrna M. Velasco – September 5, 2019, 10:00 PM
from Manila Bulletin

A study by a Korean firm has assessed the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) to be in “good condition” and it is viable for rehabilitation at a cost of $1.0 billion.

The Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) is seen during a tour around the BNPP compound in Morong town, Bataan province, north of Manila, Philippines May 11, 2018. Picture taken May 11, 2018. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco

The Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) is seen during a tour around the BNPP compound in Morong town, Bataan province.(Reuters file)

During a panel discussion at the just-concluded Powertrends 2019, Jeong Kwang Hee, director of the Global Nuclear Business Department of Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Co. Ltd. (KHNP), has indicated that the nuclear facility is in “good condition,” but there are just several components of it that need to be replaced “due to corrosion.”

The Korean firm’s assessment had been based on the outcome of a study that it had undertaken on the BNPP on the request then of the Philippine government through the Department of Energy.

The KHNP executive said the timeline of the nuclear plant’s refurbishment could be completed within four years and at a cost of roughly $1.0 billion – which is significantly lower than the reported rehabilitation cost estimate of Russia’s Rosatom State Nuclear Energy Corporation at $2.0 billion.

Dr. Carlo A. Arcilla, director of the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI) has echoed the findings of KHNP, with him assuring the public also that the Bataan nuclear facility is “not sitting on a fault line.”

“The BNPP was not built on a fault line. There is a fault not far from the plant,” but he said it is not likely that this will trigger major industrial accident in the nuclear power facility – asserting further that even the 2011 nuclear Fukushima accident was not caused by an earthquake but the tsunami that happened immediately after the temblor.

He stressed “there are people who will disagree with me, but I have evidence,” with him emphasizing that even the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) had a study supporting the “no fault line’ finding at the BNPP site.

Nevertheless, Arcilla qualified that if the Philippines would really take serious steps into the nuclear power development pathway, there are several measures and “to-do-list” that it will need to resolutely focus on.

Primarily in the required roll of compliance will be crafting a national policy on nuclear power development; then next to that is the existence of regulatory body that will oversee that sector – one that must be independent from the DOE.

“Why the need for that (independent body)? Because if there’s accident – there’s no need for the regulator to ask permission from the Energy Secretary before taking action,” he explained.

And on the realm of social acceptance, he emphasized that the government must already communicate to the public early on the pressing concern on how waste disposal will eventually be managed – and he is proposing Pagasa Island or Semirara as the prospective repository for nuclear’s spent fuel.

“In order to satisfy the acceptability and safety, we also talk about disposal at the beginning – you cannot delay that because you’ll be playing into the hands of Greenpeace – they will say, you’re just delaying it for future generations,” Arcilla said.

He qualified that the positive twist to that is: “there’s a solution – so Pagasa Island is feasible; or if not, Semirara – we have a lot of island-groups.”