AMID opposition to the proposed reopening of the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP), the country’s oldest business group has called on the Duterte government to consider the use of nuclear energy to ensure stable and low-cost power supply.
Jose Luis Yulo Jr., president of the Chamber of Commerce of the Philippine Islands, warned on Thursday that unless the government did something drastic, it would soon be at the bottom of the economic ladder of the 10-member Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean) and even the rest of Asia.
“Vietnam is moving very quickly. If we don’t do anything drastic, Vietnam will overtake us. Then Myanmar will overtake us,” Yulo told The Manila Times.
Yulo said there was no way for the Philippines to compete with its neighboring countries with high electricity rates.
“How can you industrialize if your electricity is very high? How can you compete?” he asked.
“The Chamber is supporting the use of nuclear energy for industrialization and for a better quality of life,” he added.
He noted that neighboring countries like China, South Korea, North Korea and Japan have nuclear plants, while Malaysia and Vietnam are leaning toward the use of nuclear energy.
“Now they (Malaysia and Vietnam) can have their own. If they have cheap electricity, how can we compete?” he said.
Yulo said the arguments against the proposed reopening of the BNPP in Bataan were without scientific or technical basis.
“No one has really gone to a nuclear plant and talked to the people who are running it to find what it is all about,” he said.
Yulo noted that Slovenia, where he once served as honorary consul, is the one of the “greenest and pro-environment” countries in the world and gets 90 percent of its electricity from nuclear energy.
“Their plant is a sister clone of the BNPP, exactly the same. They’ve been operating it for 35 years and it was built at the same time as our plant,” he said.
Aside from Slovenia, other countries with nuclear plants similar to the BNPP are Brazil, North Korea and South Korea, he said.
Yulo also said 65 new nuclear power plants were being built across the globe, which proves that nuclear energy is a safe and cheap source of electricity.
“My challenge to the opposition is to prove to me that they are smarter than the other countries building the 65 new plants,” Yulo said.
Yulo said the Slovenian government has offered to rehabilitate the BNPP at 15 percent of the cost of building a new plant.
Slovenia is building a plant in Poland together with BNPP contractor Westinghouse, because of the Central European country’s operational expertise in nuclear energy, Yulo said.
He admitted however that there would be no 100-percent assurance of safety in using nuclear power.
“It is the same with flying a plane, riding a car. There are safety issues always but it does not mean that we cover ourselves in a cubicle and don’t move,” he said.
Yulo clarified that he was not pushing for the use of nuclear energy alone. Rather, nuclear energy should be included in a good energy mix as done by industrialized countries, he said.