Jan. 15 (EIRNS)—For three decades, the completed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant in the Philippines has stood idle, a victim of the financiers’ coup that overthrew President Ferdinand Marcos in 1986. Recently, the government has decided to institute a nuclear power program, joining many other countries in Asia.
Last August, a study was initiated by the Nuclear Energy Program Implementing Organization under the Philippines Department of Energy, to assess the state of the idle Bataan plant. The study, carried out by Russian and Slovenian experts, with input from nuclear experts in South Korea, has determined that the plant could be rehabilitated and operated. The Energy Department received their recommendations last month, reported the Philippines Business Mirror yesterday.
With the now-public release of the Bataan plant recommendation, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said, in order to make a decision to go ahead, he is “looking at the community and the people,” who would have to accept powering up the plant. The DOE plans to finalize a program to “heighten public awareness,” to educate the community. The government has been paying nearly $1 million per year for maintenance of the plant, Cusi said, so he wants a decision made to “put a closure” on Bataan. Various other proposals have been made for use of the property, such as turning it into a tourist attraction.
But Cusi reports that, regardless of the decision on the Bataan plant, there will be a nuclear build program. “The policy is for nuclear,” he said. One option is a floating nuclear plant. “When I went to Russia,” he said, he learned that “this will be ready in early 2019. We can bring it in the country, and that is around 60 MW.” Cost is a big consideration, Cusi indicated. The Bataan reactor, nearly operational, is rated at 620 MW plant, which would make it a more efficient use of resources than a number of smaller plants. But it would need substantial upgrading and financial resources, as the technology is three decades old. Cusi said that while Bataan is the government’s responsibility, the private sector would have to “pitch in” for any other new nuclear facility to be built.