Welcome to Reactor of the Week, Nuclear Reaction’s profiling of the nuclear reactors and power plants whose reputations have made the nuclear industry the global laughing stock it is today.
Meet gorgeous, pouting Bataan, from the Bataan Peninsula in the Philippines. Born in 1976, Bataan is one high-maintenance lady, with a taste for the expensive, but who’s never done a day’s work in her life.
Work was completed on her in 1984 after costing the country somewhere in the region of $2.3 billion. For 20 years funding Bataan was the Philippine government’s largest overseas debt. It was only paid off last year, 32 years after construction began, at a final cost of 21.2 billion Philippine Pesos ( $460 million dollars at today's exchange rate).
Still, it wasn’t bad news for everybody in the Philippines. Former president Ferdinand Marcos helped himself to $80 million in kickbacks from the deal. Attempts to sue the builders, Westinghouse Electric Company , for corruption and overpricing on the contract were thrown out of US courts.
From the start, Bataan was a lady with a few problems. Four thousand defects and safety issues to be precise. And despite her sugar daddy’s generosity, Bataan has never been put through her paces. Not a single fuel rod has ever been processed, not a single watt of electricity has ever been produced. On that score, at least, Bataan is our favourite nuclear reactor in the whole world – truly clean and safe.
And there she sits to this day, unloved and unemployed. She was built in response to the 1970s oil crisis. Now a new oil crisis is here, there are rumours that the old girl is going to be brought out of retirement and put to work after all this time. According to the IAEA rehabilitation would cost additional $800 million dollars, and will take five more years. We say leave the poor thing alone – she’s not hurting anybody, is she?