In response to the Chamber of Commerce of the Philippine Islands’ support for the rehabilitation of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant
We denounce the Chamber of Commerce of the Philippine Islands (CCPI) for supporting the rehabilitation of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP). Once again, we refute its arguments which have long been countered by groups opposing the revival of the dangerous, defective power plant.
While the BNPP’s site is on high ground may be safe from tsunamis, it is not free of other seismic and volcanic dangers. Standing atop an active fault and on the slopes of Mt. Natib, a capable volcano, the plant is susceptible to be affected, if not destroyed, by natural calamities at any time. This is something that not even technological advancement can prepare us for, something that will put the lives and health of millions in estimable danger. Based on a study conducted by geologists Lagmay, Rodolfo, et al in 2012, BNPP fails the standards set by the International Atomic Energy Agency mainly due to its proneness to two types of geologic hazards – pyroclastic density currents and lava flows – which any engineering technology cannot resolve.
Insufficient job creation
CCPI equated BNPP’s operation to job creation which in the long term will help alleviate poverty, a far cry from the reality of employment in a privatized and deregularized industry such as power. The jobs brought by a single stand alone industry would pale if compared to the jobs that can be created if the downstream industries, that is, the industries that create the materials for other industries, are also present in our country.
In the case of power, this means that every stage of power production, from generation, transmission, to distribution, are present in the country and are nationalized, creating a series of industries with a well of sustainable jobs. This would be fully realized if we harness our indigenous and renewable energy sources instead of being dependent on a foreign energy source.
Expensive energy source
Since President Rodrigo Duterte took the presidency more than five months ago, he has graced the inauguration of two coal-fired power plants and has honored 19 deals approved by the previous administration. Although the said plants which have a combined capacity of more than 500 MW are only two among many power plants that started operations this year, it has not translated to decreased electricity prices. Similarly, the 600-MW capacity of the nuclear power plant is not an assurance to lower electricity rates under the liberalized power industry.
In addition to this, BNPP’s operation will increase our dependence on uranium, a foreign imported – and expensive – radioactive fuel, which puts into question the assertion that it will mean cheaper electricity for all Filipinos.
High electricity rates
Aside from the expensive fuel, there are also hidden costs on BNPP’s operation. In the 2011 bill seeking to revive the plant, electricity consumers will be imposed with a de-facto nuclear tax of 10 centavos per kWh to sustain rehabilitation and operation costs. Costs for decommissioning and disposal are also potential sources of additional charges to consumers.
This situation is made worse by laws in our country such as the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) which contains provisions that burden electricity consumers. An example of such is the pass-on provision where it is legal for power generation companies to pass on special costs, such as the decommissioning and disposal costs mentioned above, to consumers, effectively increasing electricity rates. In the case of the Philippine power industry, high electricity prices are caused not by an undersupply of electricity but by the private ownership and management of the power industry as mandated by the EPIRA.
BNPP: Dangerous, defective, expensive
Besides explicit costs that will be acquired by the BNPP, it also creates huge social costs in terms of human safety and environmental sustainability. The push for the rehabilitation and commercial operation of BNPP is a dangerous path to achieve power security.
We have confronted dirty and deadly technology such as coal-fired power plants that devastate many communities; we do not want to expose the people to greater risks that would result to irreversible damage. If the government is sincere in its goal to provide electricity to the people, it must end the corporate control of the energy industry that perpetuates the utilization of expensive and dangerous technology. The government must have political will to provide energy resources that are safe, available and accessible for the consumers.#