More studies needed on BNPP opening – experts

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Experts have recommended conducting further studies before the government finally decides to open the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP).

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They made the pronouncement in a forum organized by the Department of Science and Technology-Natonal Academy of Science and Technology (DOST-NAST).

Dr. Alfredo Francisco Mahar Lagmay, member of the Mathematical and Physical Sciences Division of NAST and professor of the National Institute of Geological Sciences of the University of the Philippines Diliman (UP-NIGS), discussed the geological hazards posed by the Southwest Natib Volcano.

Lagmay stressed the importance of monitoring and studying the volcano’s activities thoroughly to come up with precise scientific data to be used in determining the feasibility of using the BNPP.

On the other hand, Dr. Bartolome Bautista, representing Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) Director Renato Solidum, Jr., discussed Phivolc’s Current Hazards Information on the BNPP site.

He enumerated the different hazards found in the area such as the active faults from the Manila Trench and Lubao Fault whose activities must be studied further to collect substantial data in determining the risks involved in opening the BNPP.

Bautista currently serves as Phivolc’s deputy director.

Meanwhile, engineer Carlos Villaraza, a structural-earthquake engineering consultant and principal engineer of the Geohazard Structural Earthquake Engineering Design, discussed the seismic risk analysis of nuclear power plants.

He underligned various engineering designs intended to adapt to different risks and the shared several engineering interventions meant to ensure the safety of structures relative to the strength of earthquakes.

Dr. Carlo Arcilla, a professor at the UP-NIGS talked about faults, volcanoes, and nuclear waste disposal methods, an example of which is the “deep borehole disposal concept drivers” being used by highly industrialized countries.

Former lawmaker and nuclear power advocate Mark Cojuangco discussed his advocacy towards using nuclear power as an energy source.

Cojuangco said the BNPP has been certified to be safe and operational during the time of the late President Marcos and that it had undergone international standard tests for similar nuclear plants. He stressed the economic gains in case the BNPP is re-commissioned, considering that the loans spent for BNPP has been fully paid already.

The mothballed BNPP was built during the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos.

Once the BNPP is up and running, it is expected that electricity costs for consumers and commercial users will dramatically drop. However, there are other issues to consider such as safety and the plant’s possible effects on the environment, experts said.

The forum, dubbed “Policy Forum on Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP): What is its Future?” was held recently in Pasig City and organized by the Engineering Sciences and Technology Division of DOST-NAST.

DOST-NAST serves as adviser to the President his cabinet on policies concerning science and technology.

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