Bataan Nuclear Power Plant

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The Bataan Nuclear Power Plant

The Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) is a nuclear power plant based in in Morong, Bataan, Philippines. It was commissioned by president Ferdinand Marcos and building commenced in 1976. The plant's construction was completed in 1984.

When Marcos was overthrown and replaced by Corazon Aquino, the nuclear power plant project was scrapped. The Chernobyl accident of 1986 had the public protesting against the plant's operation. Another major concern is that the nuclear plant is located in an area where earthquakes are likely to occur.

To this day, the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant has remained unused. Up until April 2007, the Philippine government had to pay 155,000 dollars every day to pay for the loan that funded the power plant's construction.

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Details of the Plant's Construction

The plant is located at Napot Point, Morong, Bataan. It stands on a 357-hectare lot owned by the government. The plant is only 9 kilometers away from a dormant volcano called Mt. Natib. Because Mt. Natib stands between the Philippine Fault and the West Luzon Fault, seismic activity is likely to occur in the area and plant operation is deemed unsafe.

During the plant's construction, a Westinghouse light water nuclear reactor was installed. Had the plant been operational, the equipment would have used pressurized water to generate steam from the nuclear reactor's heat.

The reactor was capable of holding 1878 megawatts of heat energy. It would have generated approximately 621 megawatts of electricity.

The technology the plant was supposed to operate on was from the 1970s. Following the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, however, it was further improved in order to prevent incidents like the Three-Mile Island nuclear accident that took place in March 1979.

History of the Philippine Nuclear Energy Program

In 1958, the Philippine Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) was established in accordance with Republic Act 2067 which was supported by president Carlos P. Garcia.

In 1973, the Philippine economy was under a lot of pressure due to the oil crisis. With the intention of finding an alternative energy source, Marcos decided in July of that year to construct a nuclear power plant.

Workers started building the power plant in 1976. Construction was put on hold in 1979 because of the Three Mile Island accident that happened in the United States. A survey of the unfinished power plant showed that it had more than 4,000 defects. It was also pointed out that one of the biggest safety issues behind the BNPP's construction was that its location was prone to earthquakes.

The BNPP was finally completed in 1984. Its construction cost the government $2.3 billion. With its Westinghouse light water reactor, BNPP was supposed to generate 621 megawatts of electric energy.

In 1986, the Marcos Regime ended and Aquino was installed into the presidency. In April of that same year, the Chernobyl disaster happened. This was one of the major reasons Aquino did not push through with the operation of the BNPP.

The Philippine government tried to legally charge Westinghouse Electric Co. for fraudulent schemes in the installment of the Westinghouse nuclear reactor. However, the United States court turned down the case.

Succeeding administrations were strained to pay off the debt incurred for the BNPP's construction. They also tried to come up with ways in order to convert the nuclear power plant into a fossil fuel-based energy source, but such plans were deemed economically infeasible.

In 2008, a team of surveyors led by Akira Omoto was commissioned to survey the BNPP for possible rehabilitation. The Philippine government is waiting on the team's report.

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