Gordon, Ejercito, Escudero open to calls for revival of Bataan nuclear plant

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 23) — The revival of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) is a proposal worth considering as the country faces a potential energy crisis, three senatorial aspirants said Sunday.

In a CNN Philippines senatorial forum, reelectionist Senator Richard Gordon, former senator Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito, and Sorsogon Governor Francis “Chiz” Escudero expressed openness to the idea, but stressed that thorough analyses must first be conducted.

Gordon pointed out that among the considerations is the huge amount needed for the rehabilitation of the Bataan facility, which he said “would cost another hundred billion pesos.”

“Pero pagdating sa nuclear plant, I’m in favor of it in terms of magagamit natin ‘yan [But when it comes to a nuclear plant, I’m in favor of it, because that would be useful],” he said.

Ejercito meanwhile believes it is “time we reconsider” using the mothballed BNPP, as he noted that nuclear power is relatively affordable. He added, however, that ensuring public safety should be the prime concern.

BNPP — the country’s first and only nuclear power facility — was ordered shut in 1986 by then president Corazon Aquino due to corruption and safety concerns, compounded by fears after the Chernobyl nuclear fallout in Russia in the same year.

“Priority is safety, of course. But we have to reconsider so that we can lower the cost of electricity, so that our country can now move forward and catch up with our neighbors,” Ejercito said.

Likewise putting premium on safety and affordability, Escudero said experts should be consulted if it would be wiser to create a new nuclear plant instead of reviving the existing one.

“Neutral ako sa teknolohiya," he said. "Ang importante lamang ligtas ito, kayang bayaran ng sambayanang Pilipino, at makakatugon sa problema sa krisis enerhiya ng ating bansa."

[Translation: I have a neutral stand when it comes to technology. The only important things are that it is safe to use, it can be paid for by the Filipino people, and it would address our country’s energy crisis.]

All three senatorial aspirants added the country should further utilize other energy sources to address the demand for power.

Earlier, the government projected that the Malampaya gas field, which supplies around 30% of Luzon’s electricity, will be completely depleted by 2027.

In 2020, President Rodrigo Duterte issued an executive order that would look into the possible revival of the BNPP. For this purpose, the Nuclear Energy Program Inter-Agency Committee was created to study the economic, security, and environmental implications of nuclear energy as a power source, as well as perspectives from stakeholders.