The National Power Corp. (NPC) said the reopening of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) is a matter of national policy that the Administration of President Benigno Aquino 3rd is not likely to push ahead during his term.
“The issue whether it should operate still lies with the government because that is a matter of national policy,” NPC President Ma. Gladys Sta. Rita said.
“I don’t know if the President will decide on it before he steps down because he only has several months left before his term ends, so it will really be up to the next administration.”
Napocor will abide by the decision of the government once it decides to either open or finally close the said facility, Sta. Rita added.
The NPC chief issued the statement in reaction to calls to reopen the nuclear power plant to bring down power costs in the country and provide additional supply to Luzon.
Reopening the BNPP could cut power rates in the country by more than half, former Rep. Mark Cojuangco said.
Sen. Juan Victor “JV” Ejercito said using the BNPP would give the government about 620 megawatts (MW) of power to augment the supply in Luzon.
In April 2007, the government finished paying its obligations amounting to $2.3 billion to US-based Westinghouse Electric Company for the construction and maintenance of the unused facility.
Though completed, the BNPP has never operated because of stern opposition from various environmental groups and some residents of Morong, Bataan, where the plant is located.
The opposition intensified after it was found out that the plant is situated near a major faultline and sits close to Mount Pinatubo, which erupted in 1991.
Despite this, Sta. Rita supported the position of Cojuangco on the preservation of the BNPP facilities.
Cojuangco earlier proposed that Bagac-based Nuclear Village should not be separated from the BNPP, along with attached assets such as the West Nuk and other bio-monitoring lab.
“We support Cojuangco’s position because once you remove it, the BNPP will not be compliant with international standards,” said Sta. Rita.
She pointed out that the village was built because of the BNPP, as stipulated by regulations.
The Nuclear Village is currently being utilized by the NPC for training and seminars in relation to its remaining mandates under the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 (Epira).
“These are all national government properties, these are not disposal properties of NPC that are subject of Epira law,” said Sta. Rita.
Cojuangco argued that the Nuclear Village in Bagac should be transferred from the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. and made a part of BNPP, which is being cared for by the Department of Finance (DoF) and NPC.
“Government retention of the Nuclear Village under Napocor and DoF is vital once the BNPP is either rehabilitated or a new nuclear generating unit is installed inside the Bataan reservation area,” said Cojuangco.