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Alarm sounds over revival of mothballed nuclear plant

Philippine diocese vows to oppose proposal to recommission US$2.3 billion power station

Joe Torres, Manila

Joe Torres, Manila

Published: August 31, 2016 07:21 AM GMT

Updated: August 31, 2016 07:26 AM GMT

Alarm sounds over revival of mothballed nuclear plant

The Philippine government is planning to revive the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant. (Photo courtesy of Greenpeace Philippines)

A diocese in the northern Philippines has voiced opposition to a government plan to revive a nuclear power plant constructed in the 1970s.

The Bataan Nuclear Power Plant in the town of Morong in Bataan province was constructed during the term of former president Ferdinand Marcos. 

Costing US$.2.3 billion upon by the time of its completion in 1984, it remains intact, including the nuclear reactor.

Successive governments have not tried to operate the plant after studies revealed it was built near a major geological fault line.

"We don't want to put the lives of people in danger … we don't want our sources of livelihood destroyed," read a pastoral letter issued by Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga.

"The diocese has already spoken on this, and we are again making our position known," said Bishop Santos, adding that the position of the diocese "will remain and will not change."

"For us, life is more precious than profit or money that will come from cheap electricity," he said. 

"We want to take care of God's creation in response to His call to take care, not destroy and abuse His creation," he added.

Bishop Santos said the government should tap other sources of energy instead of reviving the nuclear plant.

The proposal to revive the plant came during a three-day international conference this week to discuss the prospects of nuclear power in the Asia-Pacific region.

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Philippine Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi told journalists on the sidelines of the conference that the country should consider nuclear power to address power shortages and the high cost of electricity.

Cusi said the government is already working on a road map and consulting experts on nuclear power.

The Philippine Movement for Climate Justice said that while nuclear energy is not a major contributor to climate change it poses "more danger to humanity than any kind of calamity or disaster known."

The faith-based group warned that the Philippines, with its high poverty incidence, "cannot withstand the disaster that may be brought about by a nuclear accident."

A safety inquiry in the 1980s, revealed that the Bataan nuclear plant had over 4,000 defects. 


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