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What You Need to Know About the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant

There is a big possibility that the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant will soon be utilized as one of the energy sources of the Philippines. This year, former Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte signed Executive Order No.164 following the Nuclear Energy Programme Inter-Agency Committee (NEP-IAC) recommendation, which conducted a pre-feasibility study and public consultation on the matter. With this executive order.

This executive order authorized the Department of Energy (DOE) to create and implement the Nuclear Energy Programme, and this order is in coordination with the NEP-IAC.

What You Need to Know About the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant

The Bataan Nuclear Power Plant was built in response to the 1973 oil crisis. As a result, former president Ferdinand Marcos’s administration decided to make a nuclear plant comprising two 600 Megawatt electric units. By July 1976, construction work began and was completed in 1984 at the cost of $1.9 billion.

However, financial and safety concerns related to earthquakes were put into consideration, that’s why the plant was never loaded with fuel or operated after completion. Aside from this, following the April 1986 Chernobyl accident, recently-elected President Corazon Aquino decided to freeze the plant operation.

In one of the DOSTv, you can stream the latest livestream episode about the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant. An episode where experts discuss what is the current state of BNPP and whether the renovation of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant is the answer to solving the energy security problem of the Philippines. 

Video link: ExperTalk Online: Bataan Nuclear Power Plant

Bataan Nuclear Power Plant Progress Over the Years

The construction of the Bataan Nuclear Power plant was covered with Allegations of corruption. In 1988 the Philippines government brought bribery charges against Westinghouse and an engineering firm from Burns & Roe Associates. However, the investigations conducted by the US Justice Department and Securities and Commission found no evidence of bribery. This is the same as the International Chamber of Commerce tribunal investigation. 

May 1993

The Westinghouse and Burns & Roe Corporation were free of charge with the civil bribery case by a District Court for New Jersey jury. However, orders were passed prior to the passing of the Philippines’ Sandiganbayan anti-graft court in 1987 against Herminio Disini. Disini had been accused in relation to the Bataan contract and the Marcos family.

April 2007

By April 2007, the government made the final payment for the Bataan Nuclear power plant. The government considered converting it into a natural gas-fired power plant. Instead, DOE created a project to study the development of nuclear power that aims for an overall energy plan for the coun, where nuclear energy would lessen the country’s dependency on imported oil and coal. 

2008

In the DOE’s 2008 update of the national energy, plans have been made. The 600 MWe nuclear plant was projected to be back in operation by the year 2025. In addition, it is seen to have further 600 MWe increments in 2027, 2030, and 2034 to give 2400 MWe.  

April 2012

The court absolved the Marcoses due to a lack of evidence. Still, it ruled that Disini received $50 million in commissions from Westinghouse and had used influence in awarding the Bataan contract. By the end of 2012, the DOE announced that nuclear power remained a live option on the grounds of costs and clean air.

2016

Early in 2016 and in November 2016, the DOE emphasized that nuclear power was a live option. Accordingly, the DOE created a Nuclear Energy Program Implementing Organization (NEPIO) to assess the practicality of nuclear power as a long-term energy option. 

March 2017

Rosatom State Nuclear Energy Corporation signed a nuclear cooperation agreement with the DOE, followed by another in November 2017, setting out a five-year program of discussions.

June 2018

DOE announced that KHNP would study establishing around a hundred MWe SMART small modular reactor (SMR) located at Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) and review the Bataan plant. 

December 2018

The IAEA finished the integrated nuclear infrastructure review (INIR) at the Philippine government’s request and under the care of the NEPIO. The INIR team also informed that drafting legislation in Congress on nuclear safety, security, and safeguards, as well as establishing an independent regulatory body, was being considered.

October 2019

INIR delivered to the DOE the report on phase 1 regarding the BNPP. They noted that our country recognized the usefulness of open and transparent public communication in preparations for the introduction of nuclear power. 

July 2020 

Former President Duterte signed Executive Order 116, in which the Nuclear Energy Program Inter-Agency Committee (NEP-IAC) will conduct a study on our country’s position on a nuclear energy program. As a result, DOE announced in July 2021 that they identified fifteen potential locations that could host a nuclear power plant.

February 2022 

Executive Order 164 was signed by Former President Duterte, which mandates the DOE to develop and implement a nuclear program. In addition, the Former President ordered the NEP-IAC to create recommendations in using and viability of the Bataan nuclear power plant and locations to establish other facilities for nuclear energy.

Bataan Nuclear Power Plant Today

After the signed executive order to develop and implement a nuclear program, the government collaborated on a feasibility study with the Korea Electric Power Corporation. As a result, they found out that the nuclear power plant in Bataan could be rehabilitated in four to five years at an estimated cost of around $1 billion. 
While the $2.1-billion reactor was completed in 1984, Bataan Nuclear Power Plant failed to enter operation after the end of the Marcos regime. Having it entirely operated will have some possible issues, such as the revisions of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act and getting approval from the local government of Bataan to let the power plant run. However, Arcilla said that they would ensure the facility would be safe. Otherwise, the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant will not be allowed to operate.

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