International experts find Bataan Nuclear Plant repairable

By Alena Mae S. Flores – January 14, 2018 at 07:09 pm

International nuclear experts found the mothballed 620-megawatt Bataan Nuclear Power Plant repairable, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said over the weekend.

Technicians from Russia’s State Atomic Energy Corp. and other international nuclear experts already presented to the department the results of their study on the 30-year old BNPP, according to Cusi.

“They [Rosatom] submitted that it [BNPP] can be rehabilitated. Korea also submitted that it can be rehabilitated but of course aside from that, I’m looking at the community and the people,” Cusi told reporters.

Cusi said the Energy Department was now finalizing the policy to support nuclear energy development.

“The bigger battle is the acceptance of the community. It’s the acceptance of the community…That’s why we are doing the national policy on nuclear, so how can I do that if the community doesn’t want it,” he said.

The energy chief said the public should be made aware of nuclear power and the department planned to conduct public consultations once the policy was finalized.

“Look at France, they are pushing on nuclear and even work out a deal in China on the processing of spent fuel. What about us?” Cusi said.

“On rehab, that is within my control. I can do that. We need transparency to do that,” Cusi said.

The department’s Nuclear Energy Program Implementing Organization or NEPIO  is tasked to produce a comprehensive study and prepare a national infrastructure for the first nuclear power plant.

“That’s why we have NEPIO that will coordinate with the community. So what we are saying, if the province will not agree to that, before I have to look at an alternative, because I have to put a closure to this thing,” Cusi said.

He said the government would look at options for BNPP if there was no social acceptability.

“My option here [is] if it is not accepted, I have to find a closure to this project because all of us are paying for the cost. Let’s make it useful, maybe a tourist attraction, storage, whatever,” he said.

He said government should come up first with the nuclear policy, then conduct public consultations and determine the costing.

“We are just finalizing the policy. The policy is for nuclear, not necessarily BNPP. We are looking at a floating nuclear or a maritime nuclear,” he said.

Cusi said the Philippines could bring in floating nuclear energy for island provinces with a capacity of 60 megawatts per facility.

“For me, DOE is not builder of infrastructures but more of policy directions for the country. If the policy of nuclear is okay, we will not be the one to buy that. Under Epira [Electric Power Industry Reform Act], [it should be] the private sector.  We are just paving the way to make it happen,” he said.

BNPP, which was completed in 1984, was mothballed in 1986 on safety concerns because the facility reportedly sits on a fault line.