U.S. Environmental Engineer Jorge Emmanuel on the plan to revive the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant.
Recently, some members of the Philippine Congress introduced House Bill 4631 and Senate Bill 2665 to revive the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) built by Westinghouse some 45 miles west of Manila. I urge you to sign the petition to oppose reviving the BNPP:
From 1980 to 1986, I was the co-coordinator of the campaign against the BNPP in the US. We won in 1986 when President Aquino decided to stop the nuclear plant from operating. Reviving the BNPP will negate our victory and take back all our gains of the 1980s.
Two reports I wrote in 1982 and 1984 revealed the following:
1. The BNPP was built on the southwestern flank of Natib volcano. A confidential International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report concluded that eruption of Natib was possible during the lifetime of the reactor.
2. The BNPP is surrounded by several faults in an area with among the highest frequency of earthquakes in the country. Several studies, including a classified report by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, agreed that Westinghouse’s consultants systematically understated the seismicity of the area. The IAEA report concluded that an earthquake of a magnitude that would exceed the plant’s safety limits was possible.
3. There are at least 223 unresolved technical problems in the design of the nuclear plant including an inadequate emergency core cooling system.
4. To be able to export the nuclear technology to the Philippines, Westinghouse “referenced” the design of the BNPP ultimately to a two-loop plant in Puerto Rico, implying that the BNPP meets safety requirements of the US. The Puerto Rico plant was stopped in 1972 because of problems related to seismicity.
5. To obtain the contract, Westinghouse gave Marcos cronies a “commission” of around $35 million.
Unfortunately, I lost all my files on BNPP when I lent them to a journalist some years ago. However, since my reports were published:
a) An international team of nuclear experts reported to the Presidential Commission on the BNPP in 1986 that they found some 4,000 safety defects in the plant.
b) A more detailed study commissioned by the Philippine Senate was conducted from 1988 to 1990 involving over 50 nuclear experts from the US and Europe. The report has been kept confidential but a technical consultant to the Senate recently reported that the detailed audit found the BNPP unsafe on multiple levels and has called for their release to the public.
c) A 1992 government-commissioned study by a US-based group concluded that the safety-related defects of the BNPP are so serious and numerous that it would be costly and dangerous to have them repaired.
Although many safer alternative energy options exist for the country, including converting the BNPP into a gas-fired power plant, news reports indicate that the nuclear industry is lobbying heavily and the bills are being rushed through the congress.
THE US CONNECTION
The substandard nuclear plant was built by a US firm, Westinghouse, supported by various US consulting firms such as Burns & Roe and Ebasco. From the 1950’s to 1970’s, the US Atomic Energy Commission (later the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission) and US Embassy promoted nuclear energy to the Philippines and the BNPP was supposed to be the first of 11 nuclear plants to be builts in the Philippines by US firm.
A US tax-supported export credit agency, the US Export-Import Bank (Exim), became the primary instrument for the nuclear deal with Westinghouse. It facilitated the link with Westinghouse and provided millions of dollars of loans to a high-risk project that at that time was already known to Exim as an extremely overpriced nuclear plant.
SUPPORTING THE CAMPAIGN
On Monday, February 16, 2009, advocates and veterans of the opposition to BNPP meet in Bataan to revive the campaign. I urge friends in the US to sign the petition in support of the campaign in the Philippines. http://www.petitiononline.com/no2bnppr/petition.html
Former Co-coordinator (with Boone Schirmer and Charito Planas), FFP Campaign Against the BNPP
Former Executive Secretary, Alliance for Philippine Concerns
The date posted here is due to our website rebuild, it does not reflect the original date this article was posted. This article was originally posted in Yonip on Feb 17th 2009