MANILA: The National Power Corp. (Napocor) on Monday said the government needs at least nine years to rehabilitate and assess the long-stalled Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP).
“The BNPP can be successfully rehabilitated at the cost of USD 1 billion for a period of 4 years, our information now is having a new nuclear power (plant) would cost USD 5 to USD 6 billion and will be completed in 10 years,” Napocor President Gladys Cruz-Sta. Rita told the panel.
She said that if rehabilitated, the BNPP could provide 620 megawatts or 10 percent of Luzon grid.
Nuclear Regulations Division chief Teofilo Leonin Jr. of the Philippine National Research Institute (PNRI) said that the PNRI needed at least five years to assess the four-year rehabilitation made by the government.
“The technology of BNPP was done in 1970, perhaps if the government decide, if ever, to rehabilitate the BNPP, the Napocor who is currently the caretaker of the plant needs to show the proof to the PNRI whether it can still be operated safely,” Leonin said.
House committee on Energy chairman and Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo V. Umali urged the government to decide whether it will push for the use of BNPP or not before the Aquino administration ends next year.
“We need to make policy decision whether to run this or not, this is not to mention the rehabilitation cost but more importantly social acceptance,” Umali noted.
The government has allocated Php 50 million yearly to maintain the BNPP.
“These are matters we consider as a government in determining whether to push for this or not but, at the same time, I think since this is an asset that is already available I think it is also imperative for the government particularly Napocor to take all alternative uses of BNPP so that when we make presentation and before you make decision we have fallback decision. We have options that may consider other than present it as nuclear power plant,” Umali said.
He said that the government should make comparative presentations that are more feasible, viable and economical on how the government would use the facility.
Meanwhile, Sta. Rita said that the government decided to look on the feasibility of the BNPP in 2007 with assistance from International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
The BNPP was a completely built pressurized water reactor that has been mothballed since 1986.
“The IAEA responded by sending an 8-man group to conduct a study in 2008 and they recommended the following: First, BNPP’s status must be thoroughly evaluated by technical inspections and economic evaluations conducted by a committed group of nuclear power experts with experience in preservation management. Second, the mission advised the Philippines on the general requirements for starting its nuclear power program, stressing that the proper infrastructure, safety standards, and knowledge be implemented,” she said.
Earlier, Northern Samar Rep. Emil Ong revived calls to revisit the long-stalled BNPP to address the increasing power rates in the country.
“The Bataan Nuclear Power Plant should be revisited as it might help solve the current problem on the unabated power rate hikes,” he said.
He added that the government has been spending millions for the maintenance of BNPP so it’s time to use it.