Friday, March 5, 2010

Teodoro: Time for RP to go nuke but not Bataan plant

March 06, 2010 02:49:00
Jocelyn Uy
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Original Story:

MANILA, Philippines—With many parts of the country suffering through rotating power outages, administration standard-bearer Gilbert Teodoro Jr. on Friday said it was time for government to seriously think about developing nuclear power to prepare the country for a power crisis in the next 50 years.

Speaking at a forum with defense reporters, Teodoro suggested a two-fold method for government to deal with the country’s deteriorating supply of energy.

“One, deal with the current shortfall in power supply by facilitating power barges and big users of electricity with whatever they need to self-generate,” said Teodoro, who resigned as defense secretary in November to pursue his presidential candidacy.

The other way is to explore the use of nuclear energy to address power shortages in the next 50 years, he said.

“We have to look that far ahead so that every year, we could put in the additional infrastructure necessary to create generating capacity,” Teodoro said.

Teodoro said hydroelectric power plants may no longer be reliable because of the changes in climatic patterns.

A prolonged dry spell brought about by the El NiƱo weather phenomenon has reduced the generating capacity of hydroelectric power plants in Luzon and Mindanao by 80 to 90 percent, resulting in rotating brownouts lasting for as long as 12 hours.

“We must seriously study nuclear power,” said Teodoro.

But not Bataan nuclear plant

But he is not for reviving the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP), which is being promoted by his cousin, Pangasinan Rep. Mark Cojuangco, who has filed a bill in Congress to that effect. Failing that, the congressman has proposed that his province be opened up for the construction of nuclear plants.

Teodoro said that insisting on reviving the BNPP would be “political suicide for a good program.”

“Forget it. It should not be resuscitated back to life because it is surrounded by many controversies,” said Teodoro, noting that the BNPP was located in an area near earthquake fault lines and the active Mt. Pinatubo.

Citing the capability of Japan and Korea to run nuclear power plants, Teodoro proposed that a study be conducted to find a suitable and safe location for a new nuclear power plant in the country.

Two issues

“We have the potential for developing human capability to do that, but the most important thing is to overcome issues like where it is geophysically safe to build a power plant and what do we with the waste,” he said.

“Once those two issues are overcome, it’s a good investment,” he said.

The BNPP, located on Napot Point in Morong, Bataan, was built at a cost of $2.2 billion by the dictator Ferdinand Marcos to address the oil crisis of 1973 when the country’s economy suffered because of the oil embargo perpetrated by the Middle East oil-producing states.

The plant, whose cost spiraled because of the corruption that attended the deal, was mothballed by the Aquino administration in 1986 because of safety concerns. It never became operational but the government continued to pay the foreign loans incurred to build it.

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