Greenpeace contests Senate bill to re-commission BNPP

"Nuclear power a dangerous and expensive distraction"

Feature story - November 18, 2008
Greenpeace today contested a Senate bill that seeks to re-commission the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP), asserting that such a move is extremely dangerous and unwise. The environment group presented their position paper, which will be submitted to the Senate, in a press briefing in Quezon City.

Greenpeace activists accost delegates at the ASEAN+3 meeting on nuclear engergy in Bangkok with images of Chernobyl disaster victims and banner proclaiming "NUCLEAR is not the answer" at the Plaza Athénée Bangkok Hotel, in Bangkok, Thailand. The activists demanded that ASEAN countries should invest in clean renewable energy instead of putting their populations at risk with dangerous and expensive nuclear energy.

Senate Bill 2665, an Act Mandating the Immediate Re-Commissioning And Commercial Operation Of The Bataan Nuclear Power Plant, seeks "to revisit and utilize the nuclear power option" to address both global warming and the "shortfall in the electric generating capacity of the country in 2012." It was introduced by Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago last October 7 and is currently with the Senate Committees on Energy and on Finance.

The Greenpeace position paper contends that nuclear power, contrary to the promises of the industry, has repeatedly failed to deliver and has proven to be a highly expensive and risky investment. The construction and generating costs of nuclear power are greater than most renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies.

Nuclear energy further poses multiple threats to people and the environment from its operations, including the risks and environmental damage from uranium mining, processing and transport, the potential hazard of a serious accident, the unsolved problem of nuclear waste, and the risk of nuclear weapons proliferation.

"You can't solve a problem by creating another problem. To propose nuclear expansion in the name of climate change is stacking one potential catastrophe over another. Not only does it seem outrageous to dig up mistakes from the past, it is would be a complete waste of money that is much better spent on further development of the country's plentiful renewable energy sources-the real solutions to climate change," said Greenpeace Southeast Asia Climate and Energy Campaigner Amalie Obusan.

At present, the proposed rehabilitation of the BNPP is projected at USD 800 million, already equivalent to the cost of a new power plant. According to Greenpeace, this amount will most likely increase, as, based on past and current experiences on nuclear plant construction, sticking to initial price estimates is more the exception than the rule in the construction of nuclear power plants.

Safety is also a foremost issue. Aside from the unsolved problems of nuclear waste disposal which stays dangerously radioactive for

hundreds of thousands of years, re-commissioning an outdated reactor model such as Bataan carries severe safety risks. Once a reactor has been built, improving safety features according to current standards is often an impossible task.

"You can't solve a problem by creating another problem. To propose nuclear expansion in the name of climate change is stacking one potential catastrophe over another."

Amalie Obusan

Climate and Energy Campaigner Greenpeace Southeast Asia

To combat climate change and to ensure energy security Greenpeacereport 'Energy [R]evolution: A Sustainable Philippine Energy Outlook,' draws up a comprehensive energy strategy for the Philippines to show how renewable energy can become the country's energy backbone. According to the report, renewable energy can provide as much as 57% of the country's energy needs by 2030, and 70% by 2050, with 'new' renewables, such as wind, biomass, geothermal and solar energy, contributing as much as 58% to the energy mix.

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