Research institute: South Korea offered to rehabilitate Bataan Nuclear Power Plant

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 6) – The Philippine government must consider South Korea’s offer to rehabilitate the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP), which can boost the country’s power capacity.

Philippine Nuclear Research Institute Director Carlo Arcilla revealed South Korea’s offer to rehabilitate the plant at a cost of $1 billion.

“Dapat pag-isipan natin kung seryoso ang offer ng South Korea kasi [We should think about the offer made by South Korea because] they have credibility,” Arcilla told CNN Philippines’ Newsroom Weekend.

Arcilla said most of South Korea’s nuclear power plants are at the same age as the BNPP and that they have recovered the construction expenses in just six years.

But before agreeing to Seoul’s proposal, Arcilla appealed to lawmakers to amend the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) since the law prohibits the government from owning power generating units.

“Isang legal roadblock ‘yan kasi kung gobyerno ang may-ari, hindi na pwedeng mag-generate ng power. Dapat i-modify ang EPIRA law,” said Arcilla.

[Translation: It is a legal roadblock because if the government owns such, it will not be allowed to generate power. The EPIRA law should be modified.]

The PNRI director assured that once the government gives the green light to operate the BNPP, it will follow international standards and undergo thorough safety inspection to prevent possible nuclear disasters.

Arcilla said the BNPP can only generate more than 600 megawatts of electricity and not enough to significantly contribute to our power needs, but he said we should start considering harnessing nuclear energy since the country’s main sources of fuel, like the Malampaya field, will run out of gas in the next few years.

The offer of South Korea comes after President Rodrigo Duterte issued Executive Order 164 establishing a nuclear energy program to expand the country’s power sources. 

The mothballed BNPP is the country’s only nuclear power plant. It was constructed during the administration of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, Sr.