Greenpeace calls for safe energy for the Philippines

Solemn protest against BNPP revival marks Chernobyl anniversary

Feature story - April 25, 2009
Greenpeace marked the anniversary of the world’s worst nuclear power plant disaster with a solemn candle-lighting ceremony to protest the proposed revival of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP). Calling for safe energy for the Philippines , supporters and volunteers of the environment group lit more than 2,000 candles which spell the words “No Nukes” in a park in Quezon City .

Greenpeace today marked the anniversary of the world’s worst nuclear power plant disaster with a solemn candle-lighting ceremony to protest the proposed revival of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP). Calling for safe energy for the Philippines , supporters and volunteers of the environment group lit more than 2,000 candles which spell the words “No Nukes” at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani Park, in Quezon City .

"Greenpeace is calling on the Philippine government to abandon its nuclear delusions.  Nuclear power is the most dangerous way to produce electricity.  The Chernobyl disaster and its ongoing tragic legacy of deaths, cancers and contamination remind us that every nuclear dream is only one accident away from turning into a terrible nightmare," said Greenpeace Southeast Asia Campaigner Francis Dela Cruz.

The accident in the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine on 26 April 1986 is the worst civilian nuclear catastrophe in history, releasing one hundred times more radiation than the atom bombs dropped over Hiroshima and Nagasaki .  The meltdown produced a radioactive cloud that contaminated most of Europe and devastated lives of millions of people in Western Russia, Belarus and the Ukraine even 20 years after.  At the time of the accident, about 7 million people lived in the contaminated territories including 3 million children.  Today, about 5.5 million people including more than a million children continue to live in the contaminated zones.

According to Greenpeace the full consequences of the Chernobyl disaster could top a quarter of a million cancer cases and nearly 100,000 fatal cancers. On the basis of Belarus demographic data, during the last 15 years 60,000 people have additionally died in Russia because of the Chernobyl accident.  Estimates of the total death toll for the Ukraine and Belarus could reach another 140,000.  Ongoing health impacts of radiation from the disaster have further created devastating effects on survivors - damaging immune and endocrine systems, leading to accelerated aging, cardiovascular and blood illnesses, psychological illnesses, chromosomal aberrations and an increase in fetal deformations.

Last February Greenpeace revealed that the BNPP, an outdated light water reactor, will count among the world's most dangerous nuclear power plants if operated since it does not conform to the current safety fundamentals of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)-making the inherently dangerous facility even more risky.  Moreover, all studies conducted on the BNPP, whether government or privately initiated, have declared the facility unsafe to operate.

A major accident in a light-water reactor can lead to radioactive releases equivalent to several times the release at Chernobyl and about 1,000 times that released by a fission weapon.  Relocation of the population can become necessary for large areas of up to 100,000 square kilometers and the number of cancer deaths in the ensuing years could exceed one million.  The island of Luzon where the BNPP and Metro Manila is located measures 109,965 km².

Despite claims of improvements in safety, scientists agree that another catastrophe on the scale of Chernobyl could still happen any time, anywhere.   And although no disastrous accidents similar in scale have happened since, most radioactive contamination today come from decommissioning of reactors and nuclear waste storage.  Up to now, there is no known scientific solution to nuclear waste.

"Nuclear power is a disaster waiting to happen.  Cong. Mark Cojuangco and Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes will most certainly be remembered as purveyors of death and radioactive contamination if they continue to pursue the nuclear path--rabidly promoting what is by all accounts a defective nuclear reactor," said Dela Cruz.

"Greenpeace is calling on Philippine government to instead choose the safe energy path of renewables.  Congress and the Philippine government already chose the right direction with the Renewable Energy Law. Renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies are the genuine solutions to climate change and energy security.  Our government leaders should focus on strengthening this law instead of continuing to dream up pointless--and dangerous--nuclear fantasies."

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