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May 31, 2008

The problem of high cost of power in the Philippines could be traced to the mothballing of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) in Morong, Bataan which was one of the major projects of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos. But because it would be putting the blame squarely on well-loved icons of popular uprising EDSA People Power that ousted a widely-hated dictator, we would not hazard to venture that far back in time, lest we commit “blasphemy”.

But here’s how: Upon ascension to power by the Cory government, one of the first acts was to stop the operation of the plant pointing to the inherent dangers in operating such a facility and alleged wide-scale corruption that attended its construction. Left out in the estimation was the fact that the BNPP was part of an overall long-term national energy plan inherited from the deposed regime. When the new government stepped in and decided the nuclear plant was a danger to national well-being instead, it had automatically created a huge gap in energy requirements that would take years to replace. Worse, lacking foresight, the new government did not bother to put in place any alternate plan to fill in for the deficit resulting from the mothballing of BNPP. Realization came only when eight-hour brownouts were already hitting the cities. You have such a situation, your economy runs to the ground— which it did.

Fidel Ramos was to have the unenviable responsibility of rescuing the situation upon the exit of Cory Aquino and his election to the presidency. Situation getting worse by the day, he had no choice but offer all the incentives and perks, including the stars and the moon, to woo investors to put in the money asap because each day of brownouts were causing untold ruin to the economy. Those incentives now we realize of late are penurious to consumers and industries.

Now, when the blame game gets going, we point our finger to Ramos. The old man, of course, gets mad each time but he can’t point his finger to Cory. Unthinkable it is to lay the blame on such a huge mess to one considered an icon of democracy.

So are we even reconsidering BNPP or another nuclear power plant, for that matter?

One obstacle could be this phobia for anything suggesting Marcos. What— prove that Marcos was correct! Not by a long shot.

In any case, here is one rabid anti-nuke explaining his 360-degree turnaround.

Dr. Patrick Moore was one of the five co-founders of Greenpeace in 1971. Greenpeace, an environmental group, was strongly opposed to nuclear energy.

He has since changed his mind and left Greenpeace. Today, he is one of the most prominent advocates of nuclear power.

He explains why:

The reason I changed my mind on nuclear energy is fairly simple and it started with the fact that our initial campaign at Greenpeace was against nuclear weapons testing and against the use of nuclear weapons in general and the fear of an all-out nuclear war. It was during the Cold War, in the late 1960’s, early 1970’s. It was also the height of the Vietnam war…

So we were totally focused on the weapons side… we made the mistake of lumping nuclear energy in with nuclear weapons as if all things nuclear were evil…

… of course, one of the other good uses of nuclear reactors is to produce electricity for peaceful purposes.

… there are lots of different technologies that can be used for good and evil. So if we had said, we’re not going to use fire because you could burn a city with it”, then we will be foregoing the many beneficial uses of fire…

He takes a “moral” position on the issue:

We have no right— it’s an ethical and moral issue for me— that here we enjoy the benefits of modern technology… and yet some people among us think it is their duty to prevent other people from having the very technologies which have made it possible for themselves to have good and long lives.


And an essay by Moore:


2 Comments leave one →
  1. Just Thinking permalink
    July 10, 2008 8:37 am

    Costs: (not the end user price, because it will definitely be lower than our current rates after all the government spending)

    Rehabilitation in 5-7 years could
    cost $800,000,000 or P32 Billion

    Decommissioning. THe Decommissioning of a lowly 70 MW Nuke plant in France: 480 Million Euros. You see, Nuclear decommissioning is not as simple as demolishing it with sledgehammers. This is an integral part of ANY nuke plant’s lifecycle.

    Nuclear Insurance – did you even consider how huge this should be in order to cover for Civilian Safety? This is an integral part of the lifecycle often overlook by people second to the decommissioning costs.

    Waste Disposal – I’m not for greenpeace or anything but the cost of nuclear waste disposal is a whole new world of spending altogether. Do you have ideas on where to store the waste for the next few centuries? Sure lots and lots of concrete can contain it, but heck, where? FInd a spot in our country that won’t be touched forever, then you solve part of the problem. What about Re-use spent nuclear fuel? Sure we can do that, you just need ANOTHER nuclear plant that is powered by reprocessed fuel. Besides, there’s still a need for storing the fuel used up in the reprocessing plant – Waste Disposal Costs still remain.

    I hate to say this, but the time for use to make sensible use for the BNPP has come and gone, It will be a monument to the epic failure of the stupid government that succeeded the marcos administration.


  1. Manuel L. Quezon III: The Daily Dose » Blog Archive » Mindanao hitting the fan?

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