BNPP debate: Rep. Mark Cojuangco responds

[This response by Rep. Mark Cojuangco to earlier articles opposing the recommissioning of the BNPP was published by the Philippine Daily Inquirer on May 6, 2009.]

Why we need Bataan nuclear plant now

I write in response to the erroneous remarks of Lea Guerrero, Roberto Verzola and Etta Rosales, in the Talk of the Town. (Inquirer, 3/15/09)

I said that 60 people died in the Chernobyl accident. I qualified my statement by saying; “western,” “commercial,” “nuclear” “power” industry. This does not include military, experimental and laboratory work. The Internet accounts Verzola refers to is not included by these qualifiers.

Before pointing fingers, the anti-nukes must first refute the fact that our traditional way of generating electricity, the burning of fossil fuels, spew out millions of tons of carbon dioxide and radioactive substances. No one stops this, because one-track minds would rather scare the people of an imagined nuke meltdown, instead of admitting that deadly wastes are being spread by conventional technology as we speak.

I strongly support renewable energy sources; but wind, the cheapest of them, requires an investment 4.5 to 7.5 times than the investment required for nuclear or fossil fuel power. Solar is even more expensive. The renewables, excepting possibly geothermal, are not of baseload quality—that is, not 24/7. To make it so would require further investment in storage technologies (batteries) and inverters, which then makes it even more unreachable and impossible. Hard to admit, but the renewables are not yet economically mature, nor financially viable enough to be a solution at this time. We need a proven solution now.

I have acquired the METTS study done in 1995. It concluded that the BNPP should be operated as a nuclear plant, and not be converted. I seriously suspect that the other studies being referred to by Verzola either do not exist or are deliberately being suppressed by the anti-nuke lobby, to enable a claim that we are maliciously holding back evidence. I am now concerned that these phantom studies will somehow “surface” during plenary debates to derail and subvert the legislative process.

All I ask is for Verzola and company to be reasonable and look at the METTS study. Besides, what can be more valid than the studies which produced the empirical and observable results of sister plants, especially in Korea, which have over 25 years of successful operations? These plants, more than any other paper study, physically demonstrate the validity of our claims. As they say: To see is to believe.

Verzola slams at my claims that the BNPP will provide the cheapest electricity. We only need to be reasonable and sensible and look at the countries with successful nuke power.

They say that my warning of a power crisis in 2012 is overstated. But, no one can refute the fact that the Philippines’ per capita electric consumption is very low due to the highest prices in the region. Thus, compared to our neighbors, we simply are poorer now. Our population is growing, our power plants are aging, it is a matter of time that we will need more power.

—REP. MARK O. COJUANGCO,

Fifth District,

Province of Pangasinan,

author of HB 4631

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