PRESS STATEMENT (March 18, 2011)
An 80-km BNPP evacuation radius includes all of Bataan and Pampanga, most of Zambales, Bulacan, M.Manila and Cavite, and parts of Tarlac and Batangas
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) issued on March 16, 2011 the following warning to U.S. citizens in Japan: “Under the guidelines for public safety that would be used in the United States under similar circumstances, the NRC believes it is appropriate for U.S. residents within 50 miles of the Fukushima reactors to evacuate.” (full text at http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/news/2011/11-050.pdf). The 50-mile evacuation radius is equivalent to 80.5 kilometers.
The U.S. warning suggests that the Japanese authorities, who only ordered evacuation of people within 20 km of the nuclear disaster, have been downplaying the risks associated with the ongoing nuclear meltdown. Indeed, most governments and the nuclear industry have a long history of downplaying risks, keeping secret the real extent of damage to human life and health, and outright lies about the dangers as well as costs of nuclear plants.
The Fukushima meltdown highlights another problem with nuclear energy: in times of natural disasters, when regular as well as emergency sources of power tend to fail, nuclear plants compete for the attention of emergency services because they absolutely need significant amounts of power and cooling water to prevent runaway overheating and a subsequent meltdown. When the Japanese government’s attention and resources need to be fully focused on attending to the victims of the earthquake and subsequent tsunami that hit their country, attention and resources are instead diverted to coping with the danger of nuclear meltdown, which threatens consequences that are as dire if not worse than the natural disasters themselves.
If the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant in Morong, Bataan (14°37’45”N, 120°18’49”E) were operated, and in a worst-case scenario, a meltdown similar to that which triggered the U.S. NRC evacuation warning occurred, the 80.5-kilometer radius to be evacuated will affect more than 20 million Filipinos (see map below):
- practically all of Bataan and Pampanga;
- the Zambales towns/cities of Olongapo, Subic, Castillejos, San Antonio, San Narciso, San Felipe, San Marcelino, Cabangan and Botolan;
- Bamban, Tarlac;
- the Bulacan towns/cities of Meycauayan, Bocaue, Bulacan, Sta. Maria, Hagonoy, Paombong, Guiguinto, Malolos, Plaridel, Calumpit, Pulilan and Baliuag;
- the metropolitan cities of Valenzuela, Navotas, Malabon, Caloocan, Manila, San Juan, Makati, Pasay, and Las Pinas; parts of Quezon City, Pasig, Mandaluyong, Taguig, Paranaque, Muntinlupa;
- the Cavite towns/cities of Bacoor, General Trias, Tanza, Dasmarinas, Trece Martires, Magallanes, Naic, Ternate, and Maragondon; and
- Nasugbu, Lian and parts of Tuy in Batangas.
Ateneo University in Quezon City (81.9 km) and the University Avenue in U.P. Diliman (80.8 km) are just outside the zone. But the Quezon City Hall itself (79.2 km), most of EDSA and the business areas alongside it, as well as the whole Araneta Center in Cubao (79.9 km) all fall within the danger zone. While a BNPP meltdown is a hypothetical case, we now know it can indeed happen, as it is now happening in Japan. The extent of the 80.5-km danger zone gives us an idea of the horrendous disruption in people’s lives and livelihoods that such a meltdown can cause.
President Noynoy Aquino has repeatedly said that the BNPP will not be reopened. This should put to rest any worries that Filipinos may be threatened by a similar disaster that the Japanese are now going through.
However, on March 16, the same day the U.S. NRC sent out its 80.5-km evacuation warning, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Mario Montejo told the media that he was for the reopening of the BNPP, in open defiance of the clearly-stated policy statements of the President.
Unless the President publicly disciplines his errant DOST secretary, his administration will be seen to be engaged in double-talk, on one hand assuring the public that the BNPP will not be reopened, but on the other hand mobilizing the bureaucracy and public funds towards reopening the nuclear plant.
What is it really, Mr. President?
Convenor, Philippine Greens
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