March 12, 2011
Following reports that the nuclear plant in Japan around 250 kilometers northeast of Tokyo had explosions and vented smoke to the environment, Philippine activist groups under the No to BNPP Revival! network reminded the Aquino administration of the dangers of reviving the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) here in the Philippines.
The two affected nuclear plants are in the Fukushima plant owned by the Tokyo Power Electric Company. Although the nuclear plants went onto automatic shutdown, problems after the event such as the failure of cooling systems caused the nuclear emergency. People have been evacuated around a 10-km radius of the plant. The reactor was already leaking radiation eight times the normal levels outside the facility and 1,000 times normal inside Fukushima 1's control room.
“Japan should issue a full disclosure of the status of their nuclear plants and immediately implent protocols to contain the potential meltdown. The affected communities should be protected and nearby countries such as the Philippines should also ready in case the emissions affect our surroundings,” said Dr. Giovanni Tapang, convenor of the No to the BNPP Revival!
Dr. Tapang said that this unfolding precedent in Japan should serve as an ample warning to the Philippine government to not rush headlong into the BNPP's revival.
“Issues concerning the safety, viability and environmental risks associated with the Bataan nuclear plant are still unresolved and yet the Department of Energy and the National Power Corporation seem to be hell bent on pushing through with plans to privatize the operations of the BNPP,” explained Dr. Tapang.
Similar problems such as falling barrels containing radioactive material thus releasing it to the environment were also observed in previous accidents such as the 2007 Kashiwarazaki-Kariwa accident caused by a 6.6 Mw earthquake near Niigata, Japan. There were radiation leaks in the sea and 400 drums ng low-level nuclear waste fell down during the earthquake. Fourty of these barrels opened and emitted traces of radioactive Cobalt 60 and chromium 51 in the environment. The Kashiwarazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant was one of the largest plant in the world.
“There are chances of having a similar accident if the government operates the BNPP. The Philippines is vulnerable to earthquakes, being near the Manila Trench and is sitting on the slopes of Mount Natib”, added Dr. Tapang.
“Things also become problematic if the operations of a facility like the BNPP will be handed over to a private foreign firm like the Korean Electric Company (KEPCO) which had conducted feasibility tests on the plant,” said Dr. Tapang. Other firms from Russia, Japan and South Korea were reportedly interested in operating the BNPP.
“The reopening of the BNPP is just one of the plans of the Aquino administration that is no different from his predecessor. It would not benefit the Filipino people and instead expose us to unncessary risks to its recommissioning,” Dr. Tapang added.
“What should be done is to reverse the privatization of the power industry and build safe and reliable sources of electricity. The country has vast indigenous energy resources from fossil fuels to alternative energy that we can use if only the government stops selling these to private investors,” said Dr. Tapang.###