The projected revival and operation of the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) falls under the scheme of revising Philippine history by deodorizing and denying the corruption and greed perpetrated during the Marcos martial law regime.
President Rodrigo Duterte, who idolizes the dictator Ferdinand Marcos, issued on July 24, 2020 Executive Order No. 116 which commissioned the newly-created Nuclear Energy Program – Inter-Agency Committee to conduct a “study” which could lead to the operationalization of the BNPP.
The BNPP is monikered the “Monster of Morong” because of its ignominious past; the scandal and bribery which marred its procurement and construction; the onerous and odious loan of $2.2 billion which financed its erection; the precariousness of its location as it is perched atop Mt. Natib, a potentially active volcano in the Bataan volcanic arc in western Luzon, much like Mt. Pinatubo before its 1991 eruption; its having been built along a fault line; and found to have “4,000 defects” as documented in a previous technical audit conducted by the National Union of Scientists (NUS), a group composed of American and European scientists and engineers.
For all these overriding reasons, the BNPP was mothballed more than four decades ago and was never operational.
In 1979, Marcos created the Puno Commission headed by former Justice Minister Ricardo Puno, which found, among others, that the BNPP was not safe, its design was plagued with unresolved safety issues, and was potentially hazardous to the health and safety of the public.
The passage of more than four decades has made the idle and secondhand BNPP facility even more technically obsolescent, thus militating against its operation.
Any study on the BNPP should not be for its rehabilitation and operation but for its prudent preservation as a perpetual reminder of the official and private venality of the Marcos martial law regime.
Instead of rehabilitating the mothballed BNPP, it would be better to construct a new nuclear facility elsewhere and/or maximize alternative and renewable sources of power for the country’s energy mix.
Meanwhile, after spending billions of pesos for the preservation of this white elephant, government must be more frugal in its outlays for the BNPP unlike the proposed 2021 appropriation of P92,534,000.
EDCEL C. LAGMAN