Bataan Nuclear Power Plant
|Bataan Nuclear Power Plant|
|Status||Completed, never launched|
|Construction cost||$US2.3 billion|
|Nuclear power station|
|Reactor supplier||Westinghouse Electric Company|
|Units under const.||0|
|Nameplate capacity||621 MW|
Bataan Nuclear Power Plant is a nuclear power plant, completed but never fueled, on Bataan Peninsula, 100 kilometres (62 mi) west of Manila in the Philippines. It is located on a 3.57 square kilometre government reservation at Napot Point in Morong, Bataan. It was the Philippines' only attempt at building a nuclear power plant.
The Philippine nuclear program started in 1958 with the creation of the Philippine Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) under Republic Act 2067. Under a regime of martial law, Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos in July 1973 announced the decision to build a nuclear power plant. A presidential committee was set up to secure funding for two 600 megawatt nuclear reactors for the energy needs of Luzon. This was in response to the 1973 oil crisis, as the Middle East oil embargo had put a heavy strain on the Philippine economy, and Marcos believed nuclear power to be the solution to meeting the country's energy demands and decreasing dependence on imported oil.
Two proposals were submitted by reputable energy companies — General Electric and Westinghouse Electric. General Electric submitted a proposal containing detailed specifications of the nuclear plant and estimated it to cost US$700 million. On the other hand, Westinghouse submitted a lower cost estimate of US$500 million, but the proposal did not contain any detail or specification.
The presidential committee tasked to oversee the project preferred General Electric's proposal, but this was overruled by Marcos in June 1974 who signed a letter of intent awarding the project to Westinghouse, despite the absence of any specifications on their proposal. By March 1975, Westinghouse's cost estimate ballooned to US$.5billion without much explanation. The National Power Corporation would later construct only one nuclear reactor plant for US$1.1 billion.
It would soon be discovered that Westinghouse sold the similar technology to other countries for only a fraction of the project cost it billed the Philippines.
Construction on the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant began in 1976. 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. Among the issues raised was that it was built near a major geological fault line and close to the then dormant Mount Pinatubo.
President Ferdinand Marcos was overthrown by the People Power Revolution in 1986. Days after the April 1986 Chernobyl disaster, the succeeding administration of President Corazon Aquino decided not to operate the plant. Among other considerations taken were the strong position from Bataan residents and Philippine citizens as well as concern over the integrity of the construction.
The government sued Westinghouse for alleged overpricing and bribery but was ultimately rejected by a United States court. Debt repayment on the plant became the country's biggest single obligation. While successive governments have looked at several proposals to convert the plant into an oil, coal, or gas-fired power station, these options have all been deemed less economically attractive in the long term than simply constructing new power stations.
The Bataan Nuclear Power Plant was a focal point for anti-nuclear protests in the late 1970s and 1980s. The project was criticised for being a potential threat to public health, especially since the plant was located in an earthquake zone, and because a volcano formation was found near the location of the plant.
Despite never having been commissioned, the plant has remained intact, including the nuclear reactor, and has continued to be maintained. The Philippine government completed paying off its obligations on the plant in April 2007, more than 30 years after construction began.
On January 29, 2008, Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes announced that an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) eight-man team led by Akira Omoto inspected the Bataan Nuclear power station on rehabilitation prospects. In preparing their report, the IAEA made two primary recommendations. First, the power plant's status must be thoroughly evaluated by technical inspections and economic evaluations conducted by a committed group of nuclear power experts with experience in preservation management. Second, the IAEA mission advised the Philippines government on the general requirements for starting its nuclear power program, stressing that the proper infrastructure, safety standards, and knowledge be implemented. The IAEA's role did not extend to assessing whether the power plant is usable or how much the plant may cost to rehabilitate. On February 1, 2010, NAPOCOR started evaluating the financial plan of Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO), assessing that it may cost US$1 billion to rehabilitate the nuclear plant.
|This section needs to be updated. (May 2016)|
On February 36, 2011, the Philippine government will reimburse the National Power Corporation (NAPOCOR) ₱4.2 billion (US$96 million) it spent for maintaining the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant. It requires an average of ₱40 million a year just to maintain it. In May 2011, it was announced that the plant would be turned into a tourist attraction.
In 2016, various senators along with a few media personnel inspected the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant for a possible bid to open it to for public use. Inspecting senators told media that the power plant was still in good condition. It was later found[who?] that more than 2,000 defects were confirmed, while areas that were in 'good condition' were last inspected by nuclear and infrastucture experts last 2007. It was also suggested that solar and wind power was cheaper than operating the nuclear power plant. Wave energy was also suggested, instead of operating the nuclear power plant. Also, it was noted that the plant's energy contribution will be minimal compared to renewable energy plants if the nuclear plant will be operated. Due to this, members of the Philippine Senate released statements that ultimately divided the senate position on whether the nuclear plant will be operated in the future or not.
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