Defense chief backs revival of Bataan Nuclear Power Plant

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(File photo) Bataan Nuclear Power Plant

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 28) — Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana is supporting a bid to revive the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant as it will benefit the country.

"It will just be revived to generate electricity. Hindi naman tayo siguro capable to develop our own nuclear bomb. Hindi naman siguro 'yun ang purpose nun," Lorenzana said in a media briefing in Malacañang Friday.

He was asked about the recommendation of the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute, reportedly sent to President Rodrigo Duterte, to revive the mothballed plant.

"And if they can revive it provided na hindi tayo gagastos nang malaki, I think it will be good for us. Wala tayong nakikitang security implications niyan e," Lorenzana added.

Constructed under former President Ferdinand Marcos' regime, the Bataan plant is the country's first and only nuclear power facility. The plant never opened due to issues regarding corruption and safety, compounded by fears over the Chernobyl power plant disaster in 1986, which killed and caused the sickness of dozens of people due to severe radiation effects.

The Bataan plant, located 100 kilometers west of Manila, took 10 years to build and was supposed to generate 623 megawatts of clean energy. It is now on "preservation mode" since then President Corazon Aquino refused to activate it in the 1980s, costing the government up to P50 million a year for its maintenance.

But Russian Ambassador Igor Khovaev told CNN Philippines in April that the Bataan plant was beyond revival, saying the technology in the plant was "absolutely outdated."

"The safety standards, [the] international standards are much, much higher than the standards on which the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant was built. So I think it's not possible at all," he said, referring to the plant opening. His statement comes after Russia's State Atomic Energy Corporation Rosatom conducted an assessment of the facility to determine if it was fit for commissioning.