Wednesday, March 23, 2011


In the wake of an impending nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan, the debate  about rehabilitating and reopening the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant is getting hot once more like exposed fuel rods in a nuclear reactor. Should we go nuclear or not? What are the benefits and the disadvantages? Are the benefits greater than the disadvantages or otherwise?
Here's my two cents on the issue.
As Occam's Razor has always stated: "It is vain to do with more, what can be done with less", therefore, we should not spend more for an endeavor which may open a can of worms in the future and could cause damage to the country far greater than the endeavor's advantages to our people.
The plant has been mothballed for 25 years. While designed and built to the best of standards by the Westinghouse Corporation, imagine what 25 years of weathering, wear and tear could do even to such a structure of great design and construction. Even the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant, which was designed to withstand earthquakes, did not anticipate the blow the tsunami has given it during the Great Sendai Earthquake. To reopen the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant and make it completely safe from all man-made or natural catastrophes will have to entail a huge amount of money which will be paid once more by the suffering masses who are already reeling from billions in national debt from previous administrations. Let us not add insult to their injury.

And even if we rehabilitate this plant to withstand any natural catastrophe, how about human error? Have we considered that there is always room for error in the operation of a nuclear power plant? Aside from Chernobyl and Three-Mile Island, there have been other nuclear disasters in history that have been caused by mere operational glitches: the Windscale Fire at Sellafield Nuclear Power Plant in England, the Chalk River Accident in Canada, and the Tokaimura Nuclear Accident in Japan, plus a dozen more. Sure we can train our personnel to be more careful and efficient, but this the first time the Philippines will be venturing in nuclear energy, let alone handle nuclear technology. There will be birth pains and operational errors which will cost our environment (because of contaminated natural resources) and the taxpayers (because of the costs of cleaning up radioactive material leaked in the environment). In our venture with nuclear energy, no matter how cheap our electricity will be, the costs of rehabilitating a dilapidated nuke plant as well as the costs of rehabilitating the environment and the public in case of a nuclear accident will always be shouldered by the taxpayers.

Therefore, is there any argument far greater than the costs of nuclear energy to our coffers and our environment? I guess there is none. Thus, I conclude that the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant should not be opened. There are other cleaner, safer and cheaper alternatives out there whose advantages to our environment and our people weigh heavier than the costs. Our politicians and experts should spend more money, time and effort considering these alternatives than wasting our time opening a can of worms. TSS

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