Sep. 1 (EIRNS)–The three day conference on Nuclear Power in the Asia-Pacific Region, sponsored by the IAEA in Manila, concluded today with a rousing call from the Duterte government’s Energy Secretary for reopening the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Plant and proceeding onwards with nuclear power.
Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said that the conference had provided him and others with a “virtual crash course on the entire chain of launching a nuclear program and the importance of public information.” He said that he and others had visited the Bataan plant Thursday morning. “The timing of this summit is perfect,” Cusi said. “As a coincidence we had a hearing also in the Senate. We discussed also nuclear power plants and today we inspected the BNPP and there are a lot of discussions,” he said.
It should be noted that Butch Valdes, the head of the Philippines LaRouche Society, had organized a tour of the Bataan plant for politicians and engineers several years ago, which sparked the growing interest in reversing the disaster of shutting the plant after its completion in 1985, without producing a single watt of electricity. He has since been the leading spokesman for restoring the Bataan plant, and was invited to address the conference on Wednesday (see the accompanying report on his presentation).
Cusi said that “with intensified electrification programs, increasing population, and strong GDP growth, demand for electricity is expected to grow by an average of 5 percent per year… This is the most pressing concern for the country,” and that “given its known characteristics, nuclear energy can be a viable choice for the country.”
Cusi said one of the things they learned was how other nations launched their own nuclear programs.
The meeting was chaired by the Philippine Ambassador to the UN, Zeneida Angara Collinson, who told the press: “For me the most important thing is the understanding of our people about what nuclear energy, nuclear power is all about. Having understood that, then we can form our own opinion.” She noted that experts who attended the event claimed that the BNPP was sturdier than the nuclear reactor in Fukushima, which was damaged by an earthquake and a tsunami. She said that while a single nuclear reactor will cost billions of pesos, it is cheaper to run because of the relatively cheap cost of fuel, and noted the dozens of nuclear plants being constructed in Asia. “They can no longer get [energy] from biomass, solar,” she said, adding that they were “fluctuating and we cannot use them as baseload.” The ambassador said the Philippines is already lagging behind.
“Malaysia already has a nuclear science university,” she said, explaining that knowledge in nuclear science can be applied to agriculture and health.