A forecast of a looming nationwide power shortage later next year has revived talks of salvaging whatever is left usable from the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant which continues to cost Filipino taxpayers $155,000 a day as interest payment to the creditor.
Since 30 years ago, the nuclear plant has never generated even a single kilowatt of power to light homes across the country.
The late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, in a reckless response to the power crisis in the 1970s, initiated that $2.3 billion project, which to this day has never been of value to the nation. Every Filipino taxpayer has been carrying this unthinkable burden ever since.
Officials are thinking of rebuilding the dead power plant, an initiative that will cost the Filipino taxpayers another $800 million. As to the assurance of return on investment, that remains to be seen. What is clear is that this costly thought of breathing a new life to the forgotten nuclear power plant popped up at a time politicians are busy of pondering over their 2010 fate.
They argued that it would take two years to complete a feasibility study of the plant and another five years to finish reconstruction. To build a completely new nuclear power plant, according to the energy secretary, would take 15 years.
The current administration must have known the depressive history surrounding the useless nuclear power plant. It was built near major earthquake fault lines. Worse, Mount Pinatubo, a dangerous, sleepy volcano, stands nearby.
Under the late President Corazon Aquino’s administration, the new Philippine Constitution had altogether banned the use of nuclear power plant in the country. Since the ban is enshrined in the 1987 Constitution, reviving the dead nuclear power plant has to undergo constitutional review at Congress.
While we recognize the country’s urgency to secure a stable power supply and avert an energy crisis in the not-so-distant future, the energy department’s idea of digging out the grave of Bataan’s nuclear plant is preposterous. The cost is another unwholesome story.
Nuclear experts had long studied the ubiquitous danger that the Bataan power plant would pose to the country. The nuclear plant’s perilous presence, being built at a wrong time and at a wrong place, should discourage any attempts of resurrecting an otherwise future murderer of Filipino souls.
A host of clean alternatives to supply power to the country has been suggested by environmental groups. The government should listen to suggestions of embracing a more viable, less costly, more stable and secure energy source. A nuclear power plant project must be excluded in the government’s energy agenda.
Bataan nuclear power plant’s history had already taught us of a clear and present danger. And we hope that the Arroyo administration won’t add pain and misery in the people’s memory of the wasted $2.3 billion public funds. Plus interests.