Scientists, environmentalists protest in front of Congress,

denounce revival of Bataan Nuclear Power Plant


Bonus Tracks: Ecumenical Bishops Forum vs the BNPP Revival


January 29, 2009




Clemente Bautista

of environmental group Kalikasan-PNE.

Dr. Giovanni Tapang

of progressive scientists group AGHAM.




Philippine Climate Watch Alliance

29 January 2009
Press Release

Scientists, environmentalists protest in front of Congress, denounce revival of BNPP

Scientists and environmental activists picketed in front of the House of Representatives this morning to denounce plans of reviving the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP). The protesters brought an effigy of a coffin to symbolize their contention that the BNPP is long dead and should be permanently put to the grave.

The bill seeking the plant's rehabilitation is spearheaded by Rep. Mark Cojuangco, son of businessman Eduardo "Danding" Cojuangco, and Rep. Mikey Arroyo. The legislators, along with Korean company KEPCO have tagged the rehabilitation of BNPP to cost around $1 billon.

"This is anomalous. A nuclear project, judged before as defective and corrupt, is being propped up again as a safe and reliable energy source by big-time politicians and wealthy families in the country. This would be another milking cow for traditional politicians and corrupt government officials in Malacañang," warned Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of environmental activist group Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment..

A project by former dictator Ferdinand Marcos, the BNPP construction started in 1976 but was stopped in 1979 due to concerns of safety. An independent inquiry showed that the BNPP has over 4,000 defects, rendering it unsafe and dangerous to operate.

"We cannot imagine how the new proponents can make the BNPP safe. Its technology is almost obsolete. The plant lies on Mt. Natib, a volcano, and is also near major fault lines making it susceptible to earthquakes and other seismic activities. At the same time, nuclear power is an extremely dangerous technology, producing volumes of toxic and radioactive wastes, not to mention vulnerable to terrorist attacks," added Mr. Bautista.

The Philippine Climate Watch Alliance (PCWA) meanwhile contested the idea of reviving the plant to address climate change.

"BNPP's revival, being packaged by the Arroyo government as solution to climate change, is ridiculous. A nuclear power plant employs energy-intensive and fossil-dependent industries such as uranium mining, construction and decommissioning of nuke facilities, processing, transport and storage of radioactive wastes, all of which involves carbon emission," explained Meggie Nolasco, spokeperson of PCWA. "It would take thousands of mega nuclear plants to make a dent on global carbon emission reduction levels," adds Nolasco.

According to a 2002 report by Arjun Makhijani of the US-based Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IEER), to produce a noticeable reduction in global carbon dioxide emissions, it would be necessary to build approximately 2,000 large new nuclear reactors each with 1,000-megawatt capacity. The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change outlines a scenario whereby 3,000 nuclear reactors would be needed by the year 2100.

"Rep. Cojuangco wants us to believe that an energy crisis in 2012 necessitates the revival of BNPP. The same reason was used by Pres. Marcos when he justified the construction of BNPP during the oil crisis in 1973. Even if it is true, the Bataan nuke is not the apt solution to the country's energy problems," said Dr. Giovanni Tapang, chairperson of progressive scientists group AGHAM.

"There is no question of the need to be energy independent. We can do that by harnessing our indigenous and sustainable energy resources such as hydro, geothermal, solar, wind, natural gas and oil to provide for the country's needs. But as long as the Arroyo government continues to auction and privatize our energy facilities and resources to private and foreign companies, like what they are doing with BNPP and other power plants, the problem on energy will remain," concluded Tapang.

The Philippine Climate Watch Alliance (PCWA) is a broad network of non-government organizations, grassroots and people's organizations, and individuals aiming to examine and address the impacts of climate change on marginalized communities within the country.

For inquiries, please contact the Secretariat:
Telefax No. +632-9209099,+632-9248756

UP Geology instructor Ricardo Saturay, Jr.


The Manila Times

Thursday, January 29, 2009



By Giovanni Tapang, Ph.D.
Power plays




Last week, Agham joined the Committee on Energy of the House of Representatives for an ocular visit of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP). The National Power Corp. (NPC) was there in force to guide the visitors as well as local groups opposed to the reopening of the plant. The recent bill filed in Congress to recommission the nuclear plant in Morong has reopened the debate on its safety, the economic viability of the rehabilitation of the 24-year-old facility and its long-term sustainability.


While the proponents of the move to recommission the plant are enthusiastic about the supposed benefits of having a running nuclear facility, the economic, technical and social aspects of the plant’s operation should be addressed fully and to the satisfaction not only of the experts but of the nearby communities as well before even considering turning on the plant.


Every pipe, every component, equipment and systems has to be inspected by a competent independent team. Each seal has to be tested if it is still viable and a thoroughgoing test of the plant’s structural integrity should be done. The Korean Electric Power Company (KEPCO) has volunteered to do a preliminary study on reopening the plant since they operate a similar plant in South Korea.


However, leaving the preliminary inspection to interested parties such as KEPCO is questionable since they have an interest in pushing for the reopening of the plant. The national government, according to the pending bill in Congress, would be hiring foreign nationals to operate the plant in the absence of local skilled workers and engineers. The study that KEPCO will make would also be its foothold in the management contract that would follow the reopening of the plant.


We should approach KEPCO’s report in this light. Even the International Atomic Energy Agency in news reports has cautioned the Philippines not to let “commercial interests take precedence over safety issues” when considering the revival of delayed nuclear plants.


Reopening the BNPP is supposed to address a looming energy shortage in 2012 as well as the problem of high electricity prices. Yet it is government’s refusal to shoulder the cost of building new power plants and leaving this task to private industry that is partly to blame. It has been the policy of this government to sell power plants under the NPC following the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA). Instead of stabilizing our power supply, what EPIRA has accomplished is to raise our electricity rates to around ten pesos per kilowatt hour.


It is therefore interesting that the Arroyo government and Congress can mull over providing funds to reopen BNPP and yet continue to push for the privatization of other plants. The proposed bill has listed ways how government can fund this project: by raising power rates through a surcharge of 10 centavos imposed on consumer bills or by entering into international or domestic loan agreements. Despite the cap on a billion dollars for the combined surcharge and loan, delays and interest repayments can drive this burden higher.


The Philippines has many available energy resources from hydropower, geothermal, natural gas, wind and solar but these have been all put up for sale by the government to private independent power producers. It seems that the government now plans to run the BNPP only to ask foreign operators to take over it later.


Even the reality of the plant being a solution to address climate change is being put into question by some experts since the processed nuclear fuel has used embedded carbon in its processing even before it has been used. According to a feature in Nature Reports (doi:10.1038/climate.2008.99), the life cycle carbon emissions of a nuclear plant can range from a low of 1.4 grams of carbon dioxide equivalent per kWh produced up to a high of 288 grams. The article points out that the reasonable average, 66 grams per kilowatt hour, is still twice as much carbon than solar photovoltaic and six times as much than the carbon emissions produced by wind farms.


Government must deal with the genuine concerns of the community surrounding the BNPP as well as the general public. As nuclear power is not without any risk, there should be a serious evaluation as to the sustainability of operating the BNPP: how the economic, technical and social factors add up and whether this will be of genuine benefit to the people.


[Dr. Tapang, the national chairperson of AGHAM, is a physicist at the National Institute of Physics.]




Meggie Nolasco

Spokesperson, Philippine Climate Watch Alliance (PCWA)



Vol. XXII, No. 127
Thursday, January 29, 2009 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES


Strategic Perspective
By Rene B. Azurin


Misrepresenting science


Know the difference between a scientist and a politician? Ask a scientist "what is 2 plus 2?" and the scientist unhesitatingly answers "4." Ask a politician "what is 2 plus 2?" and the politician furtively looks around, leans closer conspiratorially, then whispers out of the side of his mouth, "what do you want it to be?" OK, OK, that’s an old joke, but maybe we should keep it in mind when we hear a politician assuring one and all that the operation of the controversial Bataan Nuclear Power Plant is perfectly safe.


The proponent of House Bill 4631 ("Mandating the immediate re-commissioning and commercial operation of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant") in the House of Representatives, Rep. Mark Cojuangco, has been assuring all and sundry that the operation of the mothballed nuclear plant is completely safe, saying that he "would even take up residence in Morong (the town near where the plant is located) to prove that there was no danger in operating the facility." He did not say how this could constitute such proof.


Anyway, last week, Mr. Cojuangco was reported to have taken a group of his House colleagues on an inspection tour of the Westinghouse-built 619 MW plant "to show that it was still in good condition."


Apparently, Mr. Cojuangco also served his colleagues some "scientific data" on the geology of the location plus a lecture on radiation levels and nuclear technology. Reportedly, 190 of his colleagues have already agreed to support his bill.


Let us set aside — for now — the fact that Mr. Cojuangco is the son of the chairman of San Miguel Corporation, a conglomerate that has expressed interest in taking over the BNPP as part of its strategic diversification into the power business. San Miguel, it will be recalled, has also recently acquired major shares in electric power distribution giant Meralco and oil refiner Petron. A big power generation firm fits nicely in the apparent strategic scheme.


For now, let’s focus on the science. Dr. Kelvin Rodolfo, professor emeritus of the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences of the University of Illinois at Chicago and a balik-scientist who now teaches at the National Institute of Geological Sciences of the University of the Philippines in Diliman, says that those who are trying to justify the activation of the BNPP have been guilty of "abusing scientific data." In particular, he says that Mr. Cojuangco is "dangerously misrepresenting" the scientific data contained in a paper authored by Dr. Joan Cabato, Dr. Fernando Siringan, and himself and in another written by Dr. Ernesto Sonido and Mr. Jesse Umbal, both on the geology of the BNPP site.


Dr. Rodolfo says that they were "dismayed to find that the explanatory note to the bill cites our work as certifying the safety of the Bataan nuclear plant site." He quotes from said note: "Top geologists have evaluated Bataan and, with the exception of Mt. Natib which is a dormant volcano whose last eruption was estimated to have been between 11.3 [and] 18 thousand years ago (Cabato et al. 2005) and which is ten kilometers (10 km) from the BNPP, could find no anomalies in locating the plant there."


Dr. Rodolfo takes vigorous issue with Mr. Cojuangco’s statements and says, first, that "the BNPP is not 10 kilometers away from Natib, it is on Natib, which constitutes the entire northern half of the Bataan peninsula." Next, he says that they did not estimate the age of Mt. Natib’s last eruption in their paper. What he says they actually wrote was:


"A breach in the caldera of Mt. Natib is the most likely source of a presumed pyroclastic deposit in the eastern bay that is associated with sediments about 11,300 to 18,000 years ago, indicating that a Natib eruption occurred much more recently than previously documented for this volcano." Finally, further quoting from their paper, he says that ".the youngest [faults] show that movements occurred about every 2,000 years, most recently about 3,000 years ago." Thus, concludes Dr. Rodolfo, "judging from the geologic evidence, Subic Bay is well overdue for an episode of faulting and earthquakes."


As pointed out by Dr. Rodolfo, an exhaustive analysis of the geology and geohazards of the Subic Bay area was made by Dr. Ernesto Sonido, formerly geophysics professor of the National Institute of Geological Sciences at UP, and Mr. Jesse Umbal, who obtained his masters’ degree at the University of Illinois and worked with Dr. Rodolfo during the Mt. Pinatubo eruption. In their paper, Dr. Sonido and Mr. Umbal adjudged Natib as "potentially active." They found Mt. Natib, like Mt. Pinatubo, to be a "caldera-forming" volcano, a type which (Dr. Rodolfo says), "characteristically, have very powerful eruptions separated by long repose periods." The Sonido-Umbal study "documented two Natib eruptions that formed large calderas and estimated the recurrence period for earthquakes of Magnitude 6.4 to 7.0 at 22 years; of Magnitude 7.0 to 7.3 at 59 years; and of Magnitude 7.3 to 8.2 at 157 years."


Dr. Rodolfo further stresses that none of the "top geologists" with an intimate knowledge of Bataan has called Napot Point "safe." As an example, he cites Dr. Ronnie Torres, formerly with the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology and now at the University of Hawaii, who warned of volcanism and faulting at the site in 1992: "Natib volcano does not erupt very often but could still erupt." Says Dr. Rodolfo, "as a rough rule of thumb, the longer a volcano is in repose, the more time it has to store eruptive energy".


"In short," charges Dr. Rodolfo, "our science is being abused by a person in governmental authority, either deliberately or out of sheer geological ignorance." That’s heavy.


Beyond geological considerations, there are other issues related to nuclear power in general and the BNPP in particular. These include the risks of operational accidents, the high toxicity of materials handled, the stringent measures required to avoid radiation contamination of surrounding communities, the danger of radioactive material being stolen and used by terrorist elements, and the lack of a satisfactory solution for the final disposal of the tons of radioactive waste created. All these are compounded by the absence of a safety culture and the presence of a corruption culture in the country.


Obviously, serious questions on this matter need to be considered. But for us the public, the question we must first answer is, whose answers should we listen to? Those who represent science, or those who misrepresent it? Scientists or politicians? Well, what do we want the answer to 2 plus 2 to be?



Group says RP has enough safe energy alternatives

BAYOMBONG, Philippines - After being declared unsafe for 30 years, moves by both houses of congress to re-commission the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) has met stiff opposition from the Church and environmental watchdogs claiming that the plan will definitely imperil the country’s future.

Senate Bill No. 2665, or the proposed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant Re-commissioning Act of 2008, is claimed "to revisit and utilize the nuclear power option" to address global warming and the "shortfall in the electric generating capacity of the country in 2012."

A counterpart proposal in the House of Representatives, House Bill 4631, "An Act Mandating the Immediate Re-Commissioning and Commercial Operation of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant," was introduced by Rep. Mark Cojuangco last July.

Members of the Philippine Climate Watch Alliance (PCWA), who expressed discontent over the government’s planned re-opening of the mothballed nuclear plant, declared that there’s no need to endanger the lives of the people and the environment since the country have enough sustainable energy resources that can be tapped.

"We have more than enough resources like hydro, geothermal, wind, solar and natural gas to meet our country's energy requirement and propel us to energy independence. There is not one valid reason for us to resort to nuclear energy," said PCWA spokesperson, Meggie Nolasco.

The group pointed out that the BNPP will not address global warming as its proponents claim.

"That the nuclear power plant will not emit greenhouse gases is a perverse lie. In addition to uranium ore being non-renewable, large amounts of carbon will be emitted due to the fuel that is needed to operate the plant," said renowned geologist Kelvin Rodolfo.

According to PCWA, the re-commissioning will also uselessly spend needed funds for real and meaningful solutions to climate change and energy crisis. The construction and generating costs of nuclear power are far greater than most renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies around the world.

Grease money works?

Environmental group Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE) also feared that grease money could be one of the factors why the government is bent on pursuing the project.

"The most probable reason why the Arroyo government, particularly the Department of Energy, is reviving the nuclear option is that it is a multibillion dollar project where fat and grease money will come in from foreign energy corporations and international financial institutions," said Clemente Bautista of Kalikasan-PNE.

"We just need to recall that Marcos and his cronies are estimated to have gotten $80 million in kickbacks.

With the current administration, that is said to be the most corrupt and with many scams already under her name, the BNPP will just be another racket at the expense of the safety of our people and environment," Bautista said.

Proven unsafe

Believing that a nuclear plant is the answer to the worldwide energy crisis in 1973, former Philippine strongman President Ferdinand Marcos ordered the construction of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant in 1976 at an initial cost of $600 million. When it was completed in 1984, the cost jacked up to $2.3 billion.

It was built near major earthquake fault lines and close to the then dormant Pinatubo Volcano.

Following the 1979 Three Mile Island accident in the United States, construction on the BNPP was stopped, and a subsequent safety inquiry into the plant revealed over 4,000 defects.

Even though the BNPP has never produced a single watt of electricity, the Filipino people still paid a total of Php120 billion for principal and interest since 1986, the same year when former President Corazon Aquino declared BNPP unsafe.

Calls for the stoppage of the nuclear plant’s re-commissioning were earlier brought forward by Balanga, Bataan Bishop Socrates Villegas and Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo who said that the plan would be met with opposition.

Villegas and Pabillo charged that the power plant poses undue risk to human life with the Bataan prelate remarking that a mere congressional act cannot make the BNPP safe.

Pabillo, who heads the Episcopal Commission on Social Action-Justice and Peace of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, revealed that the nuclear power plant’s geographical location sits at the foot of Mount Natib, a potentially active volcano. - GMANews.TV




Ecumenical Bishops Forum vs the BNPP Revival



Dear Friends,

Greetings of Peace!

I wish to share with you our statement calling on the government to Stop the Revival of the Bataan Nuclear Powerplant.

Thank you,




 Statement of the Ecumenical Bishops Forum
“Stop the Revival of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant!”

The Ecumenical Bishops Forum joins the inter-faith community and all sectors of society in an urgent call to stop any moves to revive the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) as it would only endanger the lives of the Filipino people now and in the future.

It is a known fact that this project was full of anomalies and was a source of corruption during the time of President Marcos. The Filipino people was then saddled with paying for this monstrosity for close to two decades.

The revival of this project is very questionable and immoral. It has serious safety issues because it was built on an earthquake fault and near an active volcano not only one but three: Mt. Natib, Mt. Pinatubo and Mt. Mariveles.

We thus call on government leaders to cease from reviving the said nuclear power plant. We must listen to the calls of a number of scientists to focus on other alternatives for power generation that are safe and sustainable as well as indigenous, to provide for the country’s needs.

We are confident that in doing so, the government will eventually stop its practice of auctioning and privatizing our energy facilities and resources to private and foreign companies, like what they are doing with BNPP and other power plants.

We call on the Filipino people to be vigilant and stop the revival of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant.

Co-chair, Ecumenical Bishops forum

February 20, 2009

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good, and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8, NSRV )

Most Rev. Deogracias Iniguez, co chair of EBF

Most Rev. Iniguez and Rev. Rex Reyes,  co chairs of EBF