QUEZON CITY (14 March 2022) – Greenpeace Philippines today warned that the outgoing administration may be railroading more nuclear decisions through “midnight” deals during its final months, potentially leaving Filipinos locked into onerous agreements. The warning came after the government signed an MOU with the United States immediately after the issuance of EO 164.
“The Duterte administration, which has long been peddling nuclear power, now appears to be in a frenzy to close as many nuclear deals as possible before their term ends,” said campaigner Khevin Yu. “Something very fishy is going on–and Filipino people will end up paying for the consequences for all these questionable decisions.”
President Rodrigo Duterte initially rejected nuclear power in 2016, but shortly after made a complete turnaround. Under his administration, the Department of Energy, under Secretary Alfonso Cusi, became one of the biggest promoters of the use of nuclear energy in the country, signing deals with Russia, Korea and, recently, the US.
Greenpeace maintains that nuclear power is the most expensive, most dangerous, and dirtiest form of electricity. Costs for nuclear power do not only include capital costs and operations, but also handling and storage of radioactive nuclear waste, as well as costs for dismantling and decommissioning. There are also costs that will be shouldered not by the private company but by the government–these include the costs of damages from a nuclear accident, as well as costs for the final repository of nuclear waste. Meanwhile, radioactive fuel is produced by only four companies globally, and is subject to price volatility due to demand and dwindling supplies of uranium.
Because of its reliance on radioactive fuel, which remains highly radioactive even after use, nuclear power plants are also the most dangerous, and dirtiest way to produce electricity. Spent fuel waste remains a problem in all countries where nuclear power is used, and safe dismantling and decommissioning of plants takes several decades. In the US, for example, because of the absence of any permanent repository for nuclear waste, the government has to pay nuclear energy companies to store radioactive waste on site. Last year, it earmarked USD 44 billion (collected from energy customers) for the construction of a repository for spent nuclear fuel. In Japan, following the Fukushima disaster, estimated costs for implementing new safety measures and decommissioning old plants is estimated to cost around USD 123 billion. This has yet to include the cost of addressing potential nuclear accidents, which cannot be guaranteed by any private company.
“The Duterte administration has consistently glorified nuclear power while being suspiciously silent on decommissioning, nuclear waste handling and storage, and nuclear accidents,” said Yu. “If this government claims to have the people’s interests at heart, these are the issues they need to be putting front and center in any nuclear discussion. Right now, by concealing these issues, they seem to be just acting as the mouthpiece of nuclear proponents.”
“How can nuclear power be cheap and clean if people have to pay for these costs, not just from their pockets, but also with their health and lives? Once we look into these issues, we will all see that this nuclear program isn’t really serving Filipino people but the dubious interests of the nuclear power industry and their lackeys,” he added.
Note to editors:
Digital Campaigner, Greenpeace Southeast Asia – Philippines
[email protected] | +639992296451
Communications Campaigner, Greenpeace Southeast Asia – Philippines
[email protected] | +639176211552