13 May2009

Two things in the past week have really raised the hairs on my neck and made me fall into the “glass is half full” frame of mind. The first issue is the taxation of imported books, a separate post soon. The second issue, subject of a recent dinner conversation with friends, is the potential commissioning of the 30+ year old unfinished shell of the Bataan nuclear plant. I will categorically state that I am neither an expert nor expert wannabe when it comes to how our energy is generated, and I completely understand that there are both pros and cons to nuclear energy. For me, the primary pros must be “cleaner” energy and a lower long term cost for each kilowatt produced and sold to the public. The cons, however, are pretty hard to overcome for me, and they are the disposal of the nuclear waste and worse, the tiny but still very real chance of an nuclear accident that could affect millions.

But what really set my indignation antennae aflutter was this part of the conversation… “It seems they already have the support of 200+ congressmen needed to vote on seriously exploring the commissioning of the mothballed plant” Now here is where I get worried. If there is one bunch of people I do not particularly trust at the moment, given recent outrageous scandals from paper bag payoffs, vote buying, hello garci, ZTE, agricultural funds, etc., it is our own Congress. And what possible reason could they be so interested in this nuclear plant? Would it by any chance be influenced by the several billion dollar contracts it will cost to construct/renovate/commission this plant? Have we spent even a smidgen of funds to really look at alternative forms of energy? It just sounds a little too fishy to me… but that is just my opinion. And don’t you think they could have dealt with even more burning issues such as the reproductive health bill before a sudden and quick interest in nuclear power?

In the late 1970’s, I had two good friends at the International School in 8th and 9th grade. One was the son of the British brewmaster for a major local beer company and that was brilliant for unlimited access to beer for minors. The other friend was the son of one of the American engineers overseeing the construction of the Bataan nuclear plant. I distinctly recall one dinner at the latter’s house where his father had just returned from Bataan and he had all kinds of horror stories about how construction plans/specifications were not being done as required… and even then, we all knew what that implied for the safety of the plant. And now, nearly 30 years later, after sitting there exposed to the elements, we are thinking of commissioning this exact same plant? No. Please, let’s not. The Philippine archipelago is currently nuclear free. Can’t we just keep it that way and generate our energy some other way? Fatal nuclear accidents are few and far between, but if there is a bad one in Bataan, Manila is a few hours downwind from there. And really, if we could barely deal with toxic barrels of chemicals in an overturned ferry until months after the accident, or a small oil spill near Guimaras, do we really want to put our emergency capabilities to the test in a nuclear scenario? I know how I feel on this issue, but I am curious how all of you do… so please respond to the survey question at right. Many thanks.



  1. ESNazareno says:

    With the kind of people we have in our government, the Filipino people should have something to worry about. If, the politicos are true to their actions, have them and their family live in the vicinity of the nuclear plant. ‘The Philippine archipelago is currently nuclear free,’ and should remain nuclear FREE.

    May 13, 2009 | 6:56 am


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  3. Connie C says:

    Yes indeed, MM., it truly is hair raising news.

    If I remember right, one of the strongest objections to the Bataan nuclear power plant is that it sits on an earthquake fault. Not only that, If we are to believe some predictions and God forbid it actually happens, a major tectonic shift will occur in 2010, and several predictions point to a specific date, December 21, 2010, then we are in for unimaginable disaster! Have we forgotten the Chernobyl accident? and what does it take to mine uranium or plutonium and how do we get rid of nuclear waste and radioactive material that has thousands of years in half life?

    Here’s what Nuclear Age Peace Foundation says about nucler energy:

    May 13, 2009 | 7:24 am

  4. Connie C says:

    Ooops, sorry, plutonium is not mined, but is a man-made waste product of nuclear fission.

    May 13, 2009 | 7:27 am

  5. flip4ever says:

    I read that the Philippines was already one of the top users/producers of geothermal energy. I don’t understand why they do not continue to go that route even more.

    May 13, 2009 | 7:34 am

  6. sanojmd says:

    let’s not revive the issue of nuclear power plant in the phils.. we should have learn from the Chernobyl incidents in Russia. we already have so many problems that need attention and let’s not create one..i’ve heard about the taxation of imported books..holy dooley!

    May 13, 2009 | 7:37 am

  7. Maria Clara says:

    No doubt in the back of my head there is/will be payment made to our Congressmen. Our Congress and Senate just look at the color of money without thinking the catastrophic outcome of reopening the plant which was done in a kangaroo fashion or wait until a traumatic event will arise out of the plant. Have Imelda Marcos and her family move over at the Bataan Nuclear Plant site as it is now. Since it was built under the watch of her husband and as a major benefactor of the kickback money from the construction of this boondoggle project. She can party there and have ballroom dancing whenever she wishes – plenty of room to do a lot of activities. It is also built with helipad. The problem Imelda will be the source of the contamination whenever she goes to Manila to do her shopping!

    May 13, 2009 | 7:39 am

  8. JE says:

    I don’t think the effects of Chernobyl, and heck maybe even Hiroshima, ever went away completely anyways. Too much at stake in making this operational.

    Am not much of a treehugger, but there does seem to be other better alternatives.

    May 13, 2009 | 7:40 am

  9. kim says:

    that is so true, the congress definitely has an ulterior motive on this project and what else is that ??? money rules in the eyes of these people !

    they can’t even resolve the waste issues if our country, what more if this project pushes through ! huaahhhhh

    its hard to say but am i just glad to be where i am right now, i just wished i could bring my family over ! with the type of govt we have, i think PI is a hopeless case :'(

    May 13, 2009 | 7:45 am

  10. sister says:

    I wouldn’t want anything constructed in the Phil. for nuclear purposes- remember the GE scandal with the bribes that were paid to the Marcoses et al. and the plant was never finished?

    Why don’t they try windmills? Europe is covered with them and now Nantucket. Clean, safer, less expensive to construct on land and water.

    Of course the potential for lining their pockets is what is exciting the politicians, never mind that they might blow up a few million Filipinos and taint the islands for generations.

    May 13, 2009 | 8:11 am

  11. bluegirl says:

    I’m not for the revival of the Bataan nuclear plant. The politicians might market it as making do with what we have. But that plant is at least 30 yrs old. The design of that plant is most likely obsolete and not up to current standards. Its structural integrity may be compromised already. We will spend a lot just bringing it up date. Not to mention all that nuclear waste! Yuck!

    Furthermore, since that plant is in Bataan, I would think it would only be able to service Luzon. What about the needs of Visayas and Mindanao?

    I would rather see our country forget about old technology and work with new technologies. Since our country is made up of islands of vastly different sizes and different resources, we would need different solutions / techonologies to match the realities of the different island / communities.

    I feel when we look at nuclear we are looking backwards. We need to look forward — I hope this can happen but I’m not hopeful.

    May 13, 2009 | 8:30 am

  12. Elmo says:

    Hi MM,

    I’m not for the revival of the BNPP, but I would probably go for a brand new nuclear power plant, one that incorporates all the latest tecnhologies and specifications needed for a proper, safe, nuclear PP. The staff manning the plant should also be experts in nuclear energy and plant management. I think nuclear energy could be a better alternative environmentally and cost wise if done right. Otherwise, let’s just stick with coal and oil, or otherwise, as you stated, wind, solar, hydro energy.

    May 13, 2009 | 8:46 am

  13. Dee says:

    MM, have you been to the beaches in Bataan? We were in Montemar last month and went snorkeling around the nearby shores.. It’s beautiful! Im not sure if reactivating the Bataan Nuclear plant will affect marine life there.. But if it will, it will be very sad indeed..

    May 13, 2009 | 8:52 am

  14. Dee says:

    Also, there are so many potential clean energy we can tap.. We are even so lucky as a country to have so many natural resources… We can explore geothermal, more hydro, and wind! Not to mention natural gas! We dont have to go back to nuclear do we? Maybe let’s reflect on why it was closed down in the first place..

    May 13, 2009 | 8:55 am

  15. meekerz says:

    On the imported books/taxation issue, here’s a good read: http://charles-tan.blogspot.com/2009/05/essay-clarifying-great-book-blockade-of.html

    May 13, 2009 | 9:21 am

  16. Danny says:

    I hate to say it but there appears to be a lot of money to be made here.

    If the government were sincere about increasing generating capacity, considering environmental, security and other risk issues and minimizing its on-going costs, it should be looking at a geothermal solution.

    May 13, 2009 | 9:26 am

  17. jules winnfield says:

    philippine congressmen are hardcore corrupt. there is nothing outside of hell that would match the darkness of their souls. once you accept this and see through the deception, then everything they do will make sense. this bataan nuclear plant issue is simply a vehicle to feed their greed and line their pockets. heck, it could’ve even been geothermal or solar and the demons in congress would’ve seen it only as an opportunity to get richer. whether the alternative energy source is ecologically good or bad is at best the least of their worries. they would sign a bill on utilizing a billion AAA batteries to power a town if it landed them on a pretty girl’s lap in air force one later that night.

    May 13, 2009 | 9:36 am

  18. PitPat says:

    I’m sure you’re just being a little coy with “a little too fishy”..haha! Fishy is their standard operating procedure. Of course! they’re interested in reviving this white elephant. It’s a sinkhole of a project if there ever were one. As to it’s viability for power source, it’s a measly 600 megawatt capacity 30 year-old moth-balled plant with over 4000 safety violations as is. While certainly nuclear power is fairly cost effective (though not as much as most think) this is not a viable or even preferable alternative for the Philippines under any circumstance. So in the end, what is the core issue…perhaps going back to your culinary skills..this proposal reeks!! with the foulest oppressive fishy odor..why else would 200 congressmen and women without any pre-work endorse it! Follow the money trail and the story gets deeper..Spread the word.

    May 13, 2009 | 9:36 am

  19. Rhea says:

    We are in the tropics and that means abundant solar energy; why not take advantage of that?! Given that solar panels are quite expensive at the moment, why not let/ ask the government to take some steps to make it less expensive for the people? Perhaps tax discounts would appeal to those construction conglomerates who are putting up buildings here and there?

    Or we can also use geothermal energy, seeing that we are in the Pacific Ring of Fire and there are volcanoes everywhere.

    If first-world countries have nuclear accidents/ breakdowns, how much more dito sa Pinas?

    May 13, 2009 | 9:51 am

  20. silly lolo says:

    No! No! No! You guys have to stop this insanity! This will destroy the Islands. My granddaughters (plus Mom & dad) just came back from MNL and Boracay and they loved all of it. They loved the people, the food, and all that they saw and experienced. Upon returning, the girls came up to me and said, “Lolo, we are Filipino and we love ‘cheeken adowbow’!
    If you have some time, go to Nesting Ground and get a look at my little angels….you will understand why I get too busy sometimes. Nesting Ground is my daughter’s blog.
    MM, you are the best ever – lechon or no lechon. A special “hi” to BettyQ, Sister,Lee, CecileJ, Apicio, and Maria Clara. You guys make up the Best Blog Ever!

    May 13, 2009 | 9:54 am

  21. peanut says:

    If the nuclear plant is to be revived in Bataan guess who’s pockets gets lined first?
    Yes,why don’t they develop geothermal sources and windmills?
    And do you think enough measures will be taken to protect the workers,surrounding areas and the environment in case of a meltdown?Guess we all know the answer to this.

    May 13, 2009 | 9:55 am

  22. fatcat says:

    those people in congress…money…greed…coming out of their pores…. stop the insanity… go green !!!

    May 13, 2009 | 10:08 am

  23. michelle o says:

    It’s insane. It’s like asking for trouble. A truly frightening scenario.

    May 13, 2009 | 10:24 am

  24. kakusina says:

    We have already spent US$2.3 billion dollars for this nuclear monster, not counting the more than half a billion dollars for interest payments alone. Now people like Rep. Mark Cojuangco want to impose a 10 centavo per kilowatt “nuclear tax” to amass a billion dollars and get the BNPP running. And for what? So our politicos can have another “gatasan” worth billions of dollars? And at the cost of our lives? Sobra na talaga.

    May 13, 2009 | 10:35 am

  25. alaric says:

    the solution to the situation is to make geothermal, wind, tide and solar energy lucrative cash cows for our 100% corrupt politicians.

    since our politicians are wired for superhuman greed they will dip their grubby hands into any type of project anyway (and let’s face it their appetites are unstoppable so let’s stop pretending that the day will come when there will zero corruption in this country.)

    rather than do it involving a dirty and potentially dangerous nuclear energy plant i won’t mind at all if they steal from clean energy projects.

    money is the only thing that motivates politicians so we might as well use it like a carrot on a stick to steer those asses in the right direction.

    May 13, 2009 | 10:45 am

  26. Blaise says:

    What can we do to stop this? Where do we go, do we go out of the streets again and protest? Is that still effective I want that nuclear plant for the obvious reasons, but how can we make them stop?

    May 13, 2009 | 10:52 am

  27. kakusina says:

    A study of the BNPP was conducted during the term of President Corazon Aquino. It cost $9.5 million and was conducted by 50 nuclear experts. They found 40,000 defects that would cost from $1.2 to $1.5 billion (1990 rates) to repair and take more than six years to complete. And there are no guarantees that the repairs will be successful. The environmentalist Nick Perlas was a consultant to this study, but he was not allowed to testify in hearings in the House appropriations committee. Tapos wala raw mahanap na kopya ng study si Rep. Mark Cojuangco. Ano ba yan! For the sake or our beautiful and beloved Philippines, we have to do our bit to prevent the “resurrection” of BNPP.

    May 13, 2009 | 11:00 am

  28. myra_p says:

    I work in a business that deals with all sorts of waste disposal and I just had a meeting with one waste treater who told me all the horror stories/shenanigans/palusots of big corps/government/private businesses. It made my hair rise too, MM.

    If the collective Filipino cannot even learn to dispose of sludge, grease, medical waste, oil and garbage properly, how can we even begin to consider nuclear waste?????

    May 13, 2009 | 11:28 am

  29. Quillene says:

    I remember in Grade School when the nuns at our school gathered all the students and we conducted a protest at the Batasang Pambansa to oppose this project.

    We had weeks to learn the pros and cons about it but at that young age, we were given a chance to make a stand against this. I find it sad that what we voiced out then as the hopes and fears of our generation fell on deaf ears. What more now with all the noise of technology and the temptation of money and greed being stronger than ever.

    Keep the Philippines NUCLEAR FREE!!!!!!

    May 13, 2009 | 12:20 pm

  30. Dennis says:

    I am all for Nuclear Power generation. I believe that if designed and constructed right, it is arguably the safest and most economical process of generating electrical power. What I do have a problem with is nuclear waste and its disposal. In the US, up to this very minute, the debate rages on as to how and where to dispose of nuclear garbage. The highly touted (by politicians and lobbyists) Yucca Valley project in Nevada remains inoperational almost 10 years after construction begun due to serious questions raised by safety engineers and environmentalists.
    I’m sure this is one question our congressmen will always try to avoid. Where do we keep the waste?? And should they find Payatas or Dagat-dagatan reasonably adequate, as again a dumping ground, but this time for hi-tech waste, how do we transport them there?? Via NLEX, I guess.

    May 13, 2009 | 12:23 pm

  31. Lee says:

    silly lolo! welcome back! I’m really glad your family had a fun vacation.

    I hope that we remain a vacation destination with pristine beaches, cool mountains, virgin forests, great lechon. And lechon must be made in the traditional manner, roasted in a spit and not caused by a nuclear mishap. I only agree with the recommissioning of the nuclear power plant if Congress will be transferred to Bataan.

    May 13, 2009 | 1:11 pm

  32. Leica says:

    I never in my entire life met an honest politician. why should we trust them now? They’re crooks, all of them!

    Keep the Philippines nuclear free!

    May 13, 2009 | 1:28 pm

  33. lyna says:

    why would they ask the support of the congressmen when they have obvious reasons for saying yes! Develop geothermal energy, solar energy .. we have the natural resources for all of these.

    May 13, 2009 | 1:42 pm

  34. mgr says:

    Let’s not forget..Mt. Pinatubo is in the backdrop of the Bataan Nuclear Plant.

    May 13, 2009 | 1:50 pm

  35. AngBayani says:

    “For me, the primary pros must be “cleaner” energy and a lower long term cost for each kilowatt produced and sold to the public.”

    You have stated no pros on your article.
    First, nuclear energy is not “cleaner”
    In fact, nuclear waste which is a by product of the process can be difficult to dispose of.

    Secondly, going nuclear would mean that the PHILIPPINES would be HIGHLY dependent on the few countries that produce the raw materials needed to produce energy. Thereby compromising our energy security.

    If we want real long-term solutions:
    There’s wind and solar technology.
    Continual use and development of these technologies would be both environmentally friendly and economy saving in the lung run.

    May 13, 2009 | 2:33 pm

  36. marz says:

    I’m also not in favor of resuscitating the BNPP, it’s courting disaster BIG time!

    May 13, 2009 | 2:44 pm

  37. luna miranda says:

    i am also curious why the 200+ congressmen would want to resurrect the 30-year old Bataan power plant. of course, they would deny any pocket industry in the deal. i’d like to hear any of their compelling reasons why, of the thousand and one ways of spending taxpayers’ money, they thought of commissioning this Jurassic power plant. i agree with ESNazareno’s comment—the 200+ congressmen should relocate to Bataan, then maybe they could convince us of its safety.

    May 13, 2009 | 2:57 pm

  38. Dan says:

    No need to worry. Noli or manny will save us once either one becomes the president of the country

    May 13, 2009 | 3:14 pm

  39. Ronee says:

    I just watched a few days ago a BBC reporter who visited the areas near the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. There is a laboratory near the market where meat and vegetables bought from the market are tested for radiation. After a few days in the area and eating local food, he had himself tested at a clinic and was shocked to know that there were a significant amount of radiation in his stomach. And to think that the accident happended in 1986.

    May 13, 2009 | 3:15 pm

  40. Fred Lopez says:

    The biggest tragedy is not the opening of the plant, but the Billions of pesos that have been siphoned off by corrupt politicians. The inevitable plant failure would be a wake up call to Filipinos.

    May 13, 2009 | 3:29 pm

  41. The Steak Lady says:

    NO to BNPP, YES to Solar Energy!!

    May 13, 2009 | 4:29 pm

  42. bearhug0127 says:

    I only have two words for this – INSATIABLE GREED!!!!!

    May 13, 2009 | 5:00 pm

  43. Lava Bien says:

    We need to find a way to moderate their GREED as it is next to impossible to eliminate ’em.

    Keep Philippines BEAUTIFUL and Nuclear Free!

    On a brighter note!

    Just came back from our PI multi province tour. Had a good time in Boracay, tried Tatoy’s in Ilo-ilo(lato – seaweed was so good and so very inexpensive oysters), didn’t go to Guimaras (got sick – too tired , too hot)but tried the best mangoes. Loved Isabela and Cagayan (pancit batil patong baby!. OF course, gotta love Queozon Prov. I so love Lucban, Q., hope to go back soon!!

    May 13, 2009 | 5:42 pm

  44. corrien says:

    The government doesn’t have the capability to manage a nuclear power plant. With all the money that goes to pay-offs, it could be sub-standard.

    I’m from windmills and other good alternative sources of energy…we have so much sun…why can’t the cost of those solar panels be made affordable by many?…hydro, geothermal…

    May 13, 2009 | 7:30 pm

  45. betty q. says:

    Yes, Silly Lolo, your little angels are sooooooo cute and adorable….they must have taken after their Lolo!!!!! You are in my thoughts and prayers , Silly Lolo, now and forever, Amen.

    Yeah, I concur with Lee…wonder if they would still go ahead if they moved Congress over to Bataan ?!?

    May 13, 2009 | 9:06 pm

  46. Christina says:

    I agree that this is:

    A. Bad. Idea.

    If there is not the trust that it can be built safely (which there isn’t) it should not be built. That there is a real possibility of earthquake or other natural disaster (like a mega-typhoon) hitting is legitimate reason for concern.

    Also, we are at a moment where renewable energy technologies are becoming more sophisticated, and a country like the Philippines is in abundance of a variety of conditions that could generate renewable energy. It seems like that is more forward-looking than building a nuclear power plant.

    Not to mention it could become more profitable than traditional energy industries with time, as the technology develops.

    May 13, 2009 | 10:43 pm

  47. mikel says:

    the philippines may not be ready for nuclear energy at this time but i don’t think it should be ruled out as an alternative energy resource. a strong regulatory body and a complement of nuclear science experts would ensure that a plant is built and operated safely. look at the experience of western europe and japan. but yes, i agree that the renewable energy option should by fully maximized.

    May 14, 2009 | 1:03 am

  48. Cookie says:

    Please… regular garbage can’t even be disposed of properly, can you imagine nuclear waste?!!

    May 14, 2009 | 2:27 am

  49. isabel says:

    “Negros Island is now utilizing 100 percent renewable energy with geothermal providing 99.6 percent while the remaining 0.4 percent comes from hydro.” (source: http://www.philippine-embassy.de/bln/index.php?Itemid=217&id=300&option=com_content&task=view)

    then, why not the rest of the philippines?

    May 14, 2009 | 2:38 am

  50. Vicky Go says:

    Why can’t the Philippines exploit other alternative sources of energy from what it has plentiful of – like solar energy from sunlight – it’s a tropical country, duh! And wind power & geothermal, like the plant they have in Laguna near Los Banos. The base of the islands is geothermic – the archipelago is on the Pacific rim of fire. Why not tap that source instead of going nuclear? Maybe there’s more to “kikil” from nuclear generators? Maybe there’s more of a high tech cachet in it? Pride goeth before the fall! Payabangan lang kasi! So “keeping up w the Joneses”!

    May 14, 2009 | 4:03 am

  51. Juan Miguel says:

    MM, if I remember right, there is an excellent article that addresses these issues in our very own PCIJ (Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism) and the bottom line is that it would cost more to repair and bring the mothballed BNPP to minimum acceptable safety standards than to just build a new one from scratch. Nuclear power technology has undergone vast changes and improvements in just the last 10-15 years and repairing the old one will never bring it up to modern standards – not to mention that it is situated in an earthquake fault!

    May 14, 2009 | 5:40 am

  52. alaric says:

    Juan Miguel says:

    “…the bottom line is that it would cost more to repair and bring the mothballed BNPP to minimum acceptable safety standards than to just build a new one from scratch.”

    politicians are not interested in how much money the country saves but how much money they can siphon. the more expensive the project the bigger the kickback.

    between a relatively cheaper spanking new nuclear plant and the more expensive rehabilitation of an unsafe and dilapidated bataan nuclear plant, guess which one our noble politicians will pick?

    May 14, 2009 | 6:35 am

  53. Adam says:

    It’s a truly gloomy situation – like so many other ‘projects’ there is too much money sloshing around which means that decisions made by many of those involved are driven by self interest and aggrandisement. The really scary thing is that the country is not remotely equipped to deal with a nuclear accident (heck – we can’t even protect people traveling on ferries) and reviving the BNP has all of the signs of inviting into our lives imminent disaster. One would like to think that there are enough honest men and women to stop this scheme but unfortunately……

    However, I liked Lee’s suggestion of moving Congress up there!

    May 14, 2009 | 9:27 am

  54. denise says:

    i’m a product of 2 people who met because of BNPP…my dad used to work for MIESCOR and my mom used to work for Westinghouse (not the fridge company),and one of the earliest memories i have was running around the offices there…and the nuclear reactor has always been this looming grey thing we see everytime we go hit the beach (the plant is in Morong, my mom’s from Bagac, Bataan) but the what-if’s when the powerplant is activated and something goes wrong has always been on my mind ever since I learned about Chernobyl from school…and it’s scary…

    mgr…Mt Pinatubo is actually far from the plant, though I think there are 2 other dormant volcanoes nearby…

    I read in Inquirer online that a foreign company was already commissioned to do the checking of the site and the results will be released sometime next month

    May 14, 2009 | 9:31 am

  55. glenda says:

    I read an article before about how this irate scientist, who wrote a geophysical study on the area where BNPP is located, lamabasted Rep. Mark Cojuangco for cherry-picking information on the former’s report so that it appears it’s entirely safe for the government to reactivate the mothballed plant. You’re right – it’s difficult to support this plan when we know that politicos in this country are corrupt.

    May 14, 2009 | 6:52 pm

  56. mel says:

    Please google Hubert’s Peak Oil and check out the CIA World Fact Book for global oil production and consumption. Then draw your energy scenario for the Philippines.

    May 14, 2009 | 7:34 pm

  57. ricardo says:

    Phillipine needs cheap energy. That’s a fact. The exorbitant price of energy here is driving away business. (Look at Intel, they have left the Philippines because it energy is cheaper in other countries, like Vietnam) Nuclear energy is one good alternative. With global warming caused by coal-based energy, nuclear power plant is one good choice. Its doesnt have to be Bataan, but if it cheaper to re-use the existing facitily, why not use it?.
    With proper engineering, the fears of nuclear accident has no grounds.Japan, where I live, has 55 nuclear plants, and we experience far more earthquakes than the Phillipines! Its the “fear of the unknown” that makes most people oppose it, I think. But we are in the 21st century! Technology works wonders. Good engineering == Safety.
    Of course, the Philippines needs to look at other alternative source of energy. Geothermal is good. Phillipines is already the 4th geothermal generator, after Indonesia, US and Japan.

    May 14, 2009 | 11:02 pm

  58. Sheryl says:

    Hi MM,

    I’m particularly interested in what you have to say about the recent decision of DOF to tax imported books. Over at Facebook, our campaign has generated over 12,000 sign-ups in less than a week. I’m proud to say I have consistently been in the Top Ten Recruiter. :-)

    Re: Bataan Nuclear Plan- I guess a public outrage is in order. These buayas have no regard for safety whatsoever, as long as their pockets are bulging with moolah from illegal transactions.

    But there’s hope in a democracy, we just need to make a lot of noise!

    May 14, 2009 | 11:31 pm

  59. RGM says:

    I’m currently reading Collapse by J.Diamond. It’s basically a book about how the actions of societies of the past obliterated their civilization. This came to mind when I read this.

    May 15, 2009 | 12:31 am

  60. Gerry says:

    I have to say that I am for nuclear energy. It’s the price we pay for the high energy life we lead. Nuclear energy has proven itself, with a few glitches that have since been corrected, to be a safe and relatively clean source of energy that has very little impact on raising CO2 levels.

    Without nuclear power, the most likely scenario would be building more coal plants. You will have to deal with a relatively small volume of waste from nuclear, but coal plants spew toxins out of their smokestacks everyday. I just heard from a mango grower in Zambales that the leaves on their trees turn black every time the nearby coal plant emits its black smoke.

    I just wonder how many people have died a slow death from living near coal plants, or living beside EDSA for that matter. Geothermal and Hydroelectric are great, but not enough to fill our needs. Wind is intermittent and this makes it very difficult to manage in a larger scale. Solar is too expensive for the moment. Wave is not ready for the big time yet. So until something better comes along, we have to oppose coal at all cost, even if it means going nuclear.

    May 15, 2009 | 9:08 am

  61. Mark Cojuangco says:

    Wow!! So many people going balistic on this site.

    From the comments I’ve read, there is a fair bit of a wrong appreciation for nuclear power, BNPP in particular and what are the proposals embodied in formerly HB4631, now HB6300.

    I am Mark Cojuangco, the principal author of these Bills. Please allow me a chance to shed some light on these issues and the reasons that are driving me to purue this bill.

    Please do not blame my colleagues in the House for their support of this bill. If you need someone to blame, blame me.

    It is I who advocated this bill with as much energy as I can/could muster. I have been at this since before I filed the bill in June of last year, 2008. I have been promoting the rehabilitation of BNPP in all general caucuses since I assumed office as Congressman in 2001.

    If my colleagues have been won over by my arguments and reasoning, it may be because there is sense in the arguments. Nevertheless, it is only I who am to blame.

    My I state the I am somewhat dismayed at some of the reactions on this blog which have nothing by negativity for us in Congress. I have promoted the rehab of BNPP, because of our needs as a country, and solely on the basis of its technical merits or demerits.

    No one here, including myself or family/ies will have; “a take or, will profit materially” in the consideration of this bill. In fact, if passed, a majority of its implementation will probably occur in the succeeding administration. I myself have served 3 consecutive terms and therefore I am not running for any position in the coming 2010 elections.

    To get to some points for your collective consideration;

    2 weeks ago, the US government approved the 20 year “operating license extension” of the Oyster Creek NPP in New Jersey. This plant is already 40 years in operation and was first built in 1964. It is the oldest operating NPP in the US today. This plant is not built to the newest standards. It is built and maintained to the standards of its era. Standards which are still considered safe by the US NRC. Di Hamak naman na ang laki ng pagka bago, moderno, advanced at safe ang BNPP kay sa ang plantang Oyster Creek na ito.

    The US NRC has also approved 20 year licence extensions for 55 other plants in the US whose licences are set to expire in 10, 15 or 20 yrs. This is way before the actual expirations of the said licences. This, in my opinion, is a manifestation of the confidence which the regulators have in the existing NPPs. Of the total of 104 NPPs in the US, it is expected that 99+% of them will be granted these extensions.

    In addition, for the first time in 30 years, new nuclear plants are being built in the US. These are construction licences for new plants. In fact, 32 of them for now, and many more to follow.

    Given that our BNPP has never seen any neutron bombardment in its reactor (as it has never been loaded with nuclear fuel although it was ready for it in 85), which is key to the process of NPP aging, as neutrons slowly embrittle the metal of the reactor shell.

    What we therefore have is essentially; a zero time, in other words, brand new plant.

    BNPP equipment was built by Westinghouse in the US in the late 70s and 80s, under the supervision of the US NRC. Even with alleged corruption, assuming it were true, would not be able to influence the oversight and quality assurance procedure and regulatory function of the US NRC. All US made and exported nuclear components are subject to this regulation under US law. None of the nuclear equipment was built in the Philippines.

    I have been stating repeatedly for some time now but it seems you guys don’t listen. Recently, as in within the last 4 months, three entities, 2 government agencies and a geology professor; the DENR Burue of Mines and Geosciences, Phivolcs, and, Dr. Caloy Arcilla Phd., head of UP NIGS(in his personal capacity),have issued certifications that there is no fault under the plant. Dr. Arcilla, who is a Phd., balik scientist from the University of Illinois and whose one of several specialties is “geologic disposal of nuclear waste”, did a resistivity analysis around the plant (at his own expense)around 2 or 3 months ago. He did not find any fault. He challenges any geologist to prove his results wrong. The “fault under the plant” story is a lie which has been and is being peddled repeatedly for decades now.

    This is a conspiracy type myth, similar to the “deuterium riches, in the Philippine deep” myth which although false has over time, become accepted as fact. Somehow, we Filipinos love this sort of thing. Makes good stories I suppose.

    In any case, the plant is designed to withstand any seismic eventuality. 0.4G for the “balance of plant structures”, and 2.0G for the NSSS (nuclear steam supply side)structures.

    To put this into perspective and proportion; If you built a structure in Metro Manila and have 100% compliance with the National Building Code regarding siesmic design, you would end up with a structure that could withstand between approximately 0.1G to 0.15G.

    It is not surprising that BNPP was built so strong, as these structures were designed to withstand earthquakes in Japan which is even more seismically active than us or California, which is beside the San Andreas Fault.

    There is evidence to show that Mt. Natib is 12,000 years since its last eruption. Geologists have said that this makes it “dormant, extinct”. But I say, if it should erupt anyway; They (geologists) say that safe distance is 6x Natib’s vertical height of 1,253 meters, approx 7.5 km. Natib is 13.8 km. from the center of Natib. As for pyroclastic flows; BNPP will provide the seismic warning infrastructure to give the local residents the best chance of an early warning, without which the discussion becomes moot as any such pyroclastic flows will destroy everything else before it reaches the plant which is near the tip of a peninsula (Napot Pt.)jutting out to sea. This location is farthest in the area from Natib.

    It is BNPP therefore which may end up saving the people should Natib erupt, which most probably will never be. For perspective and proportionality, a nuke plant is only expected to operate for 40 years with possible extension for 20 more. It is with this timeframe in mind that I say “never”.

    Also, the seismic sensors are designed to trigger a shutdown of the plant within 2 seconds of an intensity 4 or greater earthquake. It physically shuts down, lowers control rods, in 2 seconds. Intensity 4 is only a mild earthquake.

    Nuclear is a “bridging technology” as are all others. Maybe one day, “Fusion” power or, a matured renewable technology will replace it. But for now, it really is the only game in town. I am not against renewable energy; wind, solar, geothermal. Unfortunately these are not mature enough to be economically competitive. The cheapest, wind, being about 7.5 times more costly than reactivating BNPP. This does not include power lines, roads, the over 25,000 hectares needed to locate 620MW of windpower, the increase by a factor of 3.5+ of the above mentioned factors because of wind’s very low 30% utilization factor (solar is lower, 6 mos rainy season weak sun, night time no sun). And most importantly, the needed stanby capacity or storage capacity (generators or batteries) for when there is no wind or sun (solar).

    It is for this reason that excess baseload capacity gives wind and solar more oppurtunity to be incorporated into the grid.

    In other words, the grid can tolerate a larger percentage of wind or solar power if the reserve baseload capacity percentage is made to be correspondingly larger.

    In still other words, more coal or nuclear capacity gives wind and solar more space on the grid.

    Geothermal has its own set of problems; large areas required (thousands of hectares in very specific sites) for 620 MW. High investment; about a little less than 3x the BNPP rehab cost. Roads, power lines, environmental damage namely SO2, H2S (sulfur dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, radon gas, others). SO2 forms H2SO4 (sulfuric acid), H2S is a poison, radon is radioactive. In areas where Napocor operated geothermal, they have to distribute G.I. Sheets regularly as roofs would corrode. Vehicular body work only lasts 3 years. Can you imagine breathing this in daily, and the lungs of those nearby? Also, landslides, forest encroachment, etc. A geothermal well is between 5 – 10 MW per well, you need a bunch of these to make 620 MW. This makes the production of the consolidated 620 MW quite a bit more complex.

    Geothermal in the Philippines may also be qualitatively different from geothermal in continental countries. For one thing, ours is of vocanic origin, hence the sulfurous and highly corrosive contaminants. This is as opposed to the continental sources which are not volcanic but usually are sourced from the hot granitic baserock which is relatively inert. This results in much cleaner “steam” from these sources, and much less corrosion to both equipment and the environment. Ultimately, these factors have an impact on the economics of the geothermal operations.

    I have been talking about 620 MW which is the capacity of BNPP. The problem we will soon face is 3,000 MW which will be the Luzon shortfall by 2012. Luzon only.

    Talking about shortfalls, the brownouts during Pres. Cory, Pres. Ramos years were caused by a 600 MW shortfall. It resulted in 4 to 6 hrs of rotating brownouts. How many jobs were lost? How much GDP was lost? foregone? how many businesses folded up? How much worth of sophisticated machinery was damaged? How much export and tourism oppurtunity was lost? How many foreign investors ended up avoiding the Philippines as an investment destination?

    The value of 600MW for a period of one year is approx 23billion pesos at todays prices. How many years did the brownouts go for? I submit that the losses were much more than the losses of the value of the electricity. If you include the value of GDP losses and others, it may be in the hundreds of billions of pesos per year in todays money.

    BNPP suddenly looks cheap compared to these costs huh?

    By the way, the impending shortage for 2012, 2013, 2014 is not 600 MW. IT IS 3,000 MW for the Luzon grid alone. Can you imagine the economic devastation that this will cause? It will mean 24 hrs rotating brownouts within the Luzon grid. This will cause more sickness, hunger and death than your worst imagined nuclear scenario. It won’t be covered in the papers though because it won’t be “sensational”.

    Did you know that we have one of the lowest per capita consumptions of electricity is SE Asia? And, one of the highest per kwh prices for power? These are the fruits of the IPP arrangements and “take or pay” contracts entered into to solve the Cory, Ramos “brownout”, “power crisis” situation.

    We did a “kapit sa patalim” solution to that problem. Are we supposed to wait for the crisis to come so that we can do another “kapit sa patalim” solution? Di pa ba kayo nagsasawa?
    What ever happened to being “pro active”?

    It takes 4 to 5 years to build “base load” power plants (of any kind. Coal, gas, oil, etc.), this is already too late to meet the 2012 timeline. It will take, from the time that a clear mandate to rehabilitate exists; 2 years to put BNPP into a certified state and, another 1 year after fuel loading to get it warmed up enough for operations. 3 years in all.

    BNPP has 3 sister plants running for the last 2 decades without accident, and producing power reliably and cheaply. They are; ANGRA of Brazil, KRSKO of Slovenia and KORI II of S.Korea.

    KORI II is the most notable of these as it has won awards for reliability even when compared to US plants. It also passes on its power to the grid at 5cents US per kwh or approx Pesos2.50/kwh. This is 2 pesos less than the 4.50 pesos Napocor wholesale price.

    This means a savings of at least (nine) 9 Billion pesos a year excluding any profit BNPP may make on its transfer price to the grid. Most of this savings will also be in foreign exchange because; 1kg of uranium is worth $132/kg, it needs to be converted to fuel assemblies which ups its price to between $750 and $1,000/kg, this will have the equivalent energy of 5,000 Tons of coal which has a value of $169,000.

    This is what makes nuclear power and its economics so amazing.

    In addition, BNPP will prevent the emmissions of 4.5 million tons per year of CO2, thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of tons of ash which contain toxic heavy metals such as lead, mercury, cadmium, etc. These are carcinogenic elements that do dot decay ie: they do not have a half life. In addition, these ashes contain uranium, thorium, radium. These are radioactive. Yes, you’re not reading this wrong. Fossil plants (coal plants which we currently run)are much, much more radioactive than nuclear plants could ever be. Just ask Sec. Steve Chu Phd., Nobel prize winner (physics)and the new US DOE Secratary of President Barack Obama. You can also ask the Chinese, who plan to mine the coal ash from their coal power plants for Uranium and Thorium. In the rest of the world, including the US, this stuff just lays around. So much for the one track minded greenpeace.

    If you are a TRUE environmentalist, by logic, you must recognize and consider the role of nuclear. Sa mga ibang environmentalist na hindi pa nagigising; Please, Magpaka tutuo kayo!

    It is plain to see that nuclear is the most potent weapon available to man at this time, for combating greenhouse gases and climate change. Of all the none carbon emmiting electricity generating capacity installed in the US today, 80% is nuclear, this inspite of the absense of all the fiscal (carbon credits, subsidized pricing) and legal insentives given to the other non carbon sources.

    There are 104 existing plants in the US. 32 licences have been granted to build new plants. Many more are on the way. The Obama administration, democrats who have been traditionally anti nuke, recognize the hanwriting on the wall, that there is no other way for now.

    And although the support for the other renewables is massive, it is not clear if they will emerge as economically viable despite the massive subsidies and legislation for insentives.

    As a poor country, we have no business engaging in the research to prove the viability of these technologies. Yes, let us adopt them into their niches such as off grid installations. Let us wait for the richer countries to perfect these technologies to economic maturity before we adopt them. But for right now, let us rely on proven technology for our mainstream needs. There are only 2 from which to choose, coal or nuclear.

    in a heartbeat, I would choose nuclear. Why? Because I am afraid of the coming carbon taxes, emmission taxes which are bound to happen, imposed on us by the more developed countries, as they begin to panic in trying to find a solution to climate change.

    Who knows, there is even talk of granting carbon credits to nuke power and granting it “renewable” status once the nuclear fuel cycle is “closed”. Without the nuclear alternative, the Philippines would be at a tremendous economic disadvantage. How would we compete?

    We have a good and proven plant in BNPP. It is fully paid for. How can we afford not to run this plant?

    For information; in the 70s, the KORI II plant in Korea originally cost 550 million US$, much like ours. Its price escalated through the years till it was finally completed in ’83 at a final cost of 1.05 billion US$. These escalations were typical of most if not all nuclear plants built during this era. this was caused by the demands for increased safety brought about by justified public concern. I suppose this was part of the evolution and maturation of the nuclear power industry.

    In any case, KORI II paid for itself within 7 yrs of operations selling power at rates lower than those in the Philippines. It shows that the BNPP, had it been allowed to run, could have attained similar financial performance to KORI II.

    BNPP could have given birth to at least 3 more NPPs without any additional borrowings, not to mention that its obligations would have been paid without burden to our society. Also, there would have been no brownouts and therefore no IPPs or “take or pay” arrangements.

    In 83, the Koreans decided that KORI II was safe enough and, they decided to run it. We, on the other hand, in 81 or 82, had to contend with the Puno Commission and its report, which came about as a reaction of Pres. Marcos to a complaint about the safety of BNPP as stated in a letter to him by then former Sen. Tanada.

    This investigation caused a delay of 3 years, and added much to cost. The Puno commission further mandated extra safety measures to be installed to BNPP again, increasing the cost.

    Because of this, BNPP has more safety features installed than KORI II.

    In total, BNPP ended up costing 2.118 Billion US$, 669 million US$ of this was interest which accrued after 86. the principal amount therefore totals; 1.449 Billion US$.

    For those who wish to pursue the alleged corruption. It may be the difference between this amount 1.449 B, and the final Korean price of 1.05B or, 399 million US$, less the costs for the 3 year delay (expat labor, etc.), less the costs for the Puno commission mandates, less other amounts which may have been charged post ’86, that could be subject to suspicion.

    As I had stated earlier, the negativity in large parts of this blog is dismaying. If there is a big reason why we don’t succeed as a nation, its because we love to take ourselves down. Other peoples don’t respect us because we love to make ourselves the butt of our own jokes and because of our defeatism.

    Kung talunan po and tingin ninyo sa sarili niyo, huwag niyo naman po sanang idamay ang iba. The Filipino excels in structured environments. We are world class abroad. We are world class in airline safety. We will be world class in nuclear power generation.

    I think I’ve said enough for now. There is so much more to be said though. Spent fuel disposition (what you call waste), fuel supply, manpower, funding and financing, certification, validation, ownership, corruption, the supposed 4,000 or 40,000 defects, the FCNs, the “missing” studies, etc.

    I will address all the issues in the near future, and as you state them, as best as I can.

    For now, I need to prepare my thoughts and notes for the pro BNPP rally which we will be having in Morong tomorrow.

    It may be of interest for you to know that from my many sorties (to make presentations, and have consultations) into Morong, I have learned that many in Morong have supported the reactivation of BNPP, even before I ever met them, even before I filed my bill. What they need and clamor for there is economic activity, jobs, and a more decent life.

    These people have long been intimidated by the very vocal anti nuke lobby, specially that portion which is led by some members of the local Catholic Church leadership.

    Ironically, I have managed to confirm my interpretation of what the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI said, in his greetings for the IAEA on the occassion of its 50th anniversary.

    It is; That although the Holy Father is not per se “promoting” the use of nuclear power. However, with safety in place, he asks us to have an open mind on nuclear power as a technology, because such may uplift the human condition, most specially that of the poor. He means this not only for Italy, but for the whole of humanity and, not only for nuclear medicine, but for nuclear power as well.

    For the record, the local church leaders previously mentioned say; that the Holy Father means the message only for Italy, and only for nuclear medicine.

    This is quite different from the confirmation I obtained from Monsignor Banach, the Holy See’s permanent representative to the IAEA. I met him during the IAEA ministerial conference held in Beijing, China a few weeks ago. Check out “Vatican News” on the net.

    When I get back I will be pointing you towards some links.

    That’s all for now.

    May 16, 2009 | 2:35 am

  62. Mark Cojuangco says:

    Also check out Cardinal Renato Martino. The Holy Father’s justice minister, for his words on nuke power. Also on Vatican news.

    May 16, 2009 | 3:33 am

  63. Benjamin K Sovacool says:

    Mark, your remarks about nuclear power are cogently argued and well written. It’s too bad at least two of your comments are flat-out wrong.

    First, Mark says that he is not against renewable energy per se, just that such technologies “are not mature enough to be economically competitive.” I’m not sure who Mark has been talking to, but the cheapest sources of power on the US and EU markets today are wind turbines and landfill gas capture. A global study of these technologies conducted by the UN found that they produce electricity from about 5 to 7 cents per kWh, and they do so without the need for depletable fuel, without risking meltdowns, and without producing hazardous waste. Nuclear plants, when subsidies are discounted, produce power at about 10 to 40 cents per kWh. I think it’s easy to do the math, but even if readers are unpersuaded, consider how governments and investors in other parts of the world have been making their decisions.

    According to the latest data, renewable energy investment globally surpassed $120 billion in 2008, a fourfold increase from 2004. Over the same period, solar has grown by 600 percent and wind by 250 percent. From 2007 to 2008, both the US and EU added more renewable capacity than conventional coal, gas, oil, and nuclear capacity. This bears repeating: investors and planners in Europe and the United States chose renewables over fossil fuels and nuclear last year.

    The lesson is clear: the private capital market is not investing in nuclear plants, and serious impediments remain concerning cost overruns, nuclear waste storage, proliferation, and the availability of high quality uranium. Without private financing, the only purchases of new nuclear equipment are occurring in Asia made by central planners with a draw on the public purse. The lesson seems to be that in today’s market, governments can have only about as many nuclear plants as they can force taxpayers to purchase

    Second, Mark talks about some of the environmental impacts from geothermal energy as if they were worse than those from nuclear power. This is close to ludicrous—the nuclear fuel cycle produces some of the most dangerous wastes ever known to humankind. Consider a study done by two economists, Thomas Sundqvist and Patrik Soderholm. These guys analyzed 132 separate estimates for individual electricity generators to determine the extent to which price estimates failed to reflect true costs and benefits. Aware that one could tweak the numbers by looking at only on one or two studies, Sundqvist and Soderholm looked at as many studies of renewable energy price estimates as they could. They found that true damages from nuclear power plants, when averaged across studies, represented almost 9 extra ¢/kWh but renewable plants, but only 0.3 to 5 ¢/kWh for renewables. This makes renewables 30 to 1.8 times better than nuclear power plants in terms of environmental damages.

    Representative Cojuangco is certainly permitted to defend his position, and I laud him for doing so in a public forum online. But Mark, don’t misrepresent the facts while doing so.

    May 16, 2009 | 6:37 pm

  64. chrisb says:

    To the good congressman from Tarlac: I think it would be accurate to state that most of the fears people have on commissioning the BNPP stems from the perception that this is another “kapit sa patalim” solution to a looming crisis. But instead of just resulting in higher energy costs in monetary terms, we could end up paying steep environment and health costs as well- something most people are not prepared to even consider, let alone pay, in case of an accident.

    I have to say that I am open to nuclear power, I know it can be a safe and cheap source of energy but it is not as rosy as you paint it. You skipped touching on spent fuel, which is what I am most interested in. Isn’t it true that up to this day, all spent fuel in nuclear reactors around the world are in temporary containment as scientists have not found a way to permanently dispose of these radioactive wastes in a safe and effective manner? And they are still waiting for a permanent solution to be discovered or developed? And what is your plan for spent fuel disposal at the BNPP?

    And another thing, I find very disturbing your statement that “Fossil plants (coal plants which we currently run)are much, much more radioactive than nuclear plants could ever be.” You’ve got to admit that that is just pure spin. Why don’t you tell that to Chernobyll victims? That statement needs a lot of qualifying to become true and I, as a thinking individual, simply refuse to accept it as written. It serves you no good and only reinforces the perception that you are “cherry-picking” reports to suit your needs.

    Having said that, I look forward to reading more views on this so I can be more informed not so much on nuclear energy in general (which I know can be safe, cheap and effective), but on the issues surrounding the BNPP in particular (on which I am a whole lot more uncertain).

    May 16, 2009 | 11:57 pm

  65. Chuck Baclagon says:

    Nukes does seem like a good energy option to the existing problems that we have like climate change and energy security however…The truth is you can’t solve one problem by creating another!

    Nuclear power is not the answer to climate change. Renewable energy and energy efficiency deliver much larger reductions in carbon emissions.

    Nuclear power is dangerous. From the mining of radioactive uranium fuel, to its transport and use for nuclear power, and finally up to its disposal, nuclear power creates a radioactive and toxic cycle, which up till now there are no solutions.

    Nuclear Power is expensive. Building, operating and maintaining nuclear power plants cost more than most renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies.

    Nuclear power is not the solution. The key to energy security and climate change is Renewable Energy and energy efficiency. And the best thing about it is: we already have a renewable energy law – so we don’t need to revive outdated technology like the BNPP!

    May 17, 2009 | 9:30 am

  66. Mark Dia says:

    Hello Folks. First of all I would like to thank Market Manila Man for putting up for discussion and debate the issue of reviving the nuclear option in the Philippines. I can see from the reactions that the followers of this blog are highly informed people who love the Philippines and food. I wish there were 90 million of us. I also suspect that the percentages in the poll reflect the sentiments of the rest of the country, and more would be against nuclear power once they get all the facts. Second, in relation to that I would like to invite all of you to go to http://www.greenpeace.org.ph/bnpp where you can get more information and if you truly believe in the power of action and are opposed to nuclear power in the Philippines, please sign up.
    Thank you, Congressman Cojuanco for laying down your points. I have not met you but I have come across your arguments several times. I have looked up your sources and examples and comparing that to all the other information that is available it is still clear to me and for all those who have looked at the information that nuclear is not the answer.

    Even France, the world champion in nuclear power with 58 reactors and nearly 100 other nuclear related facilities cannot claim to have solved their energy needs through their nuclear program – The price of electricity in France is just below the European Union average. They have amassed at least 890,000 cubic meters of radioactive waste. They have hundreds of reported significant safety and security incidents each year.

    Safety standards continuously evolve to match new information. The nuclear industry is of course no exception to this. To say that a nuclear power plant like the BNPP built to standards set 30 years ago could meet safety requirements today is to say the least horrifying. The BNPP is of a similar design and era to most of France’s reactors. Think of this: as of 1995 even the French safety authority admits that all of France’s 58 reactors would not be licensed under new safety criteria. The BNPP not surprisingly also does not conform to the current international safety standards of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

    We should also not forget that Japans largest nuclear reactor, the largest reactor in the world in terms of capacity, was up till this year not operating after it was shut down when it was damaged and had radioactive leaks after an earthquake in July 2007. The Tokyo Electric Power Company posted losses of about 234 billion yen, because they had to increase their power generation from oil and natural gas.

    I will not bother to go into the arguments on Mount Natib, earthquakes and faultlines, im sure others would love to do so.

    If I go on about the failures of nuclear power, this post will be much longer than Congressman Cojuancos 8 pages so I will go on to what I think is one of the most important points to consider: that nuclear power does solve the problem of climate change.

    Nuclear power’s effective contribution to GHG emissions reduction per unit of energy generated has been
    falling steadily since the 1990s. In its present state, the nuclear industry is not in a position to make a major contribution to improving energy security or to combating climate change over the coming decades.

    The International Atomic Energy Agency in one of their most optimistic scenarios for the nuclear industry suggests reducing worldwide GHG emissions by 2050 which includes, among other proposals, a development of nuclear output from 2,800 TWh a year today to 6,000 TWh in 2030 and 9,000 TWh in 2050. At this level, nuclear power would cut by 3.5% GHG emissions in 2050. Hey, that’s great, but in the same scenario, energy efficiency could cut down GHG by 54% and renewable energy by 21%. Just read the numbers.

    Nuclear energy is a fatal distraction from the real solution of having a massive uptake in renewable energy and instituting energy efficiency. We have are now working on ways to implement the Philippine Renewable Energy Law passed last year. Already, even before it is fully implemented, we are seeing grounds gained in replacing coal with renewables.

    Contrary to your claims, Congressman Cojuanco, Greenpeace does not have a one track mind. In this issue in fact we have three tracks: No to coal (which we should work on together), No to nuclear (Which we hope you will drop), and Yes to Renewables and Energy Efficiency.

    The Philippines is in a good position, a unique chance to be a global leader in developing renewable energy sources. If we can all work together then the power of your 1,000$ per kilogram of radioactive uranium which is equivalent to the 169,000$ per 5000 tons of dirty coal, we can get from the sun, the wind, the waves, and the heat of the earth. And guess what? Its free, safe and renewable.

    May 17, 2009 | 1:39 pm

  67. Mark Cojuangco says:

    Benjamin Sorry, but the reverse of what you say is true.

    It is wind which has the blockbuster subsidies and insentives. Inspite of which, it failed to take over the market when nuclear was put on hold for the last 25 yrs. I think 25 yrs. However, in spite of what you’ve said, nuclear is undergoing a renaisance, specially in the USA.

    Your comparisons are not representative of reality because wind is not “baseload” ie: not available 24/7.

    To compensate, you firstly need to overbuild, secondly you need a way to either store power or have standby. Storage is expensive.

    Conventional storage, such as pumped storage uses hydroelectric installations, and water is pumped back up doing periods of surplus power. However, during the dry season, this will compete with crop irrigation.

    More modern storage, such as batteries are even more expensive and need replacement every few years. Their disposal or reprocessing may be an environmental nightmare.

    If you check out cradle to grave carbon emissions, wind comes in at the middle, nuclear is lowest. You can check this out in Verzola’s website. He’s anti nuke.

    As far as price, nuclear competes with Hydro, the previously cheapest source. If you put a $ cost to CO2 and other emmissions because of the environmental damage they cause, nuclear comes out further ahead. Because, Hydro has a higher lifecycle carbon footprint than nuclear, and wind, much more so.

    How much landfill gas capture capacity is there in the world? Is it enough to make even 1% of the required capacity? Why don’t you ask Dr. Caloy Arcilla, the head of UP NIGS. He built the only existing such facility in Payatas. I think its 1 or 2 MW. His expertise was needed so the the holes needed to extract the methane could be drilled properly. He also did an exhaustive study on the size of the reserve.

    By the way, that’s another area where “good intentions” have screwed up reality. The methane that gets into our air because of all these garbage dumps has a greenhouse potential 20 to 30 x worst than CO2 by weight. We should have allowed proper power generating incineration in modern facilities in the first place. Thank the current “clean air act” for that. Its about time this law needs revisiting. But, that’s another matter.

    What you call nuclear waste, I call spent fuel. I also see it as; future energy resources in interim storage. Many countries now see it this way too.

    Everything in nuclear power generation is “contained”. Unlike all other conventional industries, or in your example, geothermal, nothing there is no waste stream per se. Nothing, as in nothing, is emmited.

    To deny the emmissions of geothermal is to deny reality.

    What you are talking about is a nuclear accident. In the west, to which our plant belongs due to its design which stresses containment as a doctrine, not a single person has been killed, injured nor property damaged in the 50+ years history of the nuclear power generating industry, due to radiation.

    What other industry ever invented by man can boast of such a safety record. Airline, chemical, food, construction? I think none.

    Even if you include Chernobyl, which could practically be considered as a demonstration of what a worst ever nuclear accident could be. Nuclear is still the safest.

    Our BNPP could never do a Chernobyl because of 2 main reasons and several of lesser import;

    Our plant uses metals in the construction of the reactor for structure, and water as a reaction moderator. Chernobyl on the other hand used graphite for both structure and, as the reaction moderator.

    This results in big differences;

    Graphite burns, in so doing it produces fumes, particulates, smoke. This is how radioactive material was spread in Chernobyl, through the particulates and smoke from the fire.

    Metal on the other hand, melts and pools. In a “meltdown” it will collect at the bottom of the reactor and containment. Radiation will be incorporated into the molten metal matrix.

    Further, when water is used as a moderator and it becomes less dense by getting hotter, its effect as a moderator lessens thus slowing down the reaction. It is therefore said to have a “negative temperature coefficient of reactivity” ie: the hoter it gets, the more difficult to maintain a reaction. This makes PWRs (BNPP) stable and easy to control as it is in a sense; “self correcting”

    This is not true for graphite reactors. Reactions with graphite moderators do not slow down as the reactor gets hotter. In fact, the reverse happens and, when a graphite reactor coolant boils, it manifests a property called; “void coefficient of reactivity”. It all means in short that graphite reactors such as Chernobyl end up with a; “positive temperature coefficient of reactivity” It is therefore more difficult to control, ie; it is more prone to, thermal runaway.

    our plant has 2 containment structures built within each other. One of them is inch thich stainless steel, the other is meter+ thick specially reinforced concrete. These were proven to work well, at Three Mile. Had Chernobyl been built with containment (bit of impossible because of the massive size of the graphite reactor), the spread of radiation would have been prevented.

    It is a mistake to compare Chernobyl with western style
    NPPs. It is akin to comparing the “China Clipper” with the Boeing 747. However, unlike the 747, a western nuke plant has not killed or injured anyone due to radiation in over 40 years.

    A western nuke plant could not physically spread nuclear material like Chernobyl even in a worst case scenario.

    As an aside, the background levels of radiation in Chernobyl are lower than what one would find in New York’s Grand Central Station. The low natural background levels prior to the accident, to begin with, are said to be part of the underlying reason for this observation. Also, studies are being done there now for the observed phenomenon of “Hormesis”. Please check this out, as it provides valuable insight into the effects of low level radiation.

    As to the question of final disposition of “nuke waste” or “spent fuel”, there are no technical barriers, only political ones. Leaders in this field are Sweden. However, there are even more economical solutions that are even more technically correct and economic such as; deep geolocical disposal using large boreholes, subsea disposal in geologically ancient and stable mud. (this is not dumping in the ocean). I may post a link for this in future, can’t find it right now.

    I did not misrepresent any facts. I believe that you need to do more homework.

    Just ask yourself, if what you say is true, then why is much of the world turning to nuke now, after several decades of putting it on hold. If wind and methane capture are the solutions, then why is it not being adopted now as “THE” solution.

    Be carefull of the hype, specially in the quoted capacities of renewable. These are usually given as “peak”, and reflect an operating condition which exists for only a short time of every day, if at all (such as during rainy season for solar). The claims are usually too “idealized”.

    May 17, 2009 | 3:38 pm

  68. Mark Cojuangco says:


    Sorry I’m from Pangasinan, not Tarlac.

    It is not “kapit sa patalim” because;

    It is already built.

    It is already paid for.

    The cost to rehabilitate is very low for what it is, even when compared to the alternatives.

    It is the quickest to bring online.

    You are already paying the environmental costs of the alternatives now, without even realizing it.

    Caloy Arcilla Phd. (geology), suggests designating one of our uninhabited islands in a geologically stable area as a permanent repository.

    He suggests deep geological burial, (from my understanding, 3 km deep, and which may be accomplished through large deep boreholes and spent fuel canisters) which excludes the material (spent fuel)from human contact for eternity. Of courcse, such a scheme excludes the retrieval of the material for future use.

    One of Dr. Arcilla specializations is in; Nuclear Waste disposal.

    One of the things Caloy told me was that geologists have discovered that there exist natural analogs of nuclear plants that were once functional. ie; natural nuclear power plants. Please read up on the Oklo natural reactors found in Gabon. You will find it in; WIKIPEDIA.

    These reactors also produced nuclear waste, “spent fuel”. What was interesting was that the surrounding soil, mud and rock had completely fixed and captured these wastes, as there was no migration, in spite of the fact that there is/was ground water present. This is an example wich clearly shows and demonstrates that many fears as proposed and cultured by some oppositors may be exagerated, unreasonable, unfounded and sensationalized.

    In the meantime, Russia has commercialized the concept of “fuel leasing”, and they will take back ALL the spent fuel.

    The US, UK, China are pushing the same concept as is the IAEA. Further, the IAEA is pushing for regional cooperation and arrangements on the matter.

    France needs amendments to its laws to handle waste residuals from outside sources, but it actively reprocesses spent fuel for international customers today.

    Closing the fuel cycle by “breeding” and reprocessing increases the extractable energy up to 50 x (from iaea in China last month). This would allow the classifacation of nuclear as; renewable energy. That’s why I called spent fuel “future energy resources in interim storage” in the previous post.

    My bill provides funding for ultimate disposal as a sinking fund from the revenues of BNPP sales. It is not an extra cost. It is part of operating cost. It is the internatinally recognized amount being set aside for this purpose per kwh.

    The IAEA, and the developed countries are also pushing the concept of “fuel banking” to assure the supplies of nuclear fuel to consumer countries and the handling of waste for recovery.

    If you were to total all the nuke waste in the US today, including that from weapons manufacture which is huge, it would cover 1 football field to a height of 9 feet. With reprocessing, it is reduced to 3 inches. This is all the waste in the US since the atom bomb. In contrast, for now, we only have an itty bitty plant, so the quantities of spent fuel involved are small, the imagined problem, out of proportion.

    We have the capacity built in to BNPP today, to store 20 years worth of spent fuel. By that time the accumulated amount of funds for the purpose of disposal will be huge, and the technologies will be even further along, so will the identification of other uses.
    No. Its not spin. Its fact. China is studying the extraction of Uranium from coal ash. Some coal could have uranium levels as high as 1,000 ppm. This further concentrates in the ash.

    Let’s say you get coal that has just 2 ppm (the average concentration in the earth’s crust, ie; in the soil, everywhere). A 620 MW coal plant would burn 1.7 million tons of coal per year. 2 ppm of 1.7million is; That is 3.4 tons of uranium, per year.

    Thorium is 4x more abundant, you need to check out the natural abundance of radium (I have not).

    Well, then Steve Chu and other experts must be making it all up. Argue with him. He’s just the new US DOE Sec., nobel price winner, pro renewable advocate (and liar I suppose, according to your assesment). He has said this though, verbatim.

    What makes you think that these sources of pollution are not causing all sorts of harm all over the world? They are, insiduously, but not spectacularly or sensationally like Chernobyl, and so, not covered by media.

    Nuke tech is honest. The dangers can be quantified up front. It becomes a societal decision to accept or not. On the other hand, the danger and harm of conventional energy has been swept under the rug for so long, unacknowleged. This actually occuring harm is greater than what we fear (unreasonable fear)or imagine, may come from nuclear, ever.

    I can assure you though, the magnitude of the harm is much larger than Chernobyl. Example; 30,000 deaths directly or indirectly connected to coal power generation in the USA alone, every single year.

    50 people died at Chernobyl, mostly plant personnel, responding firemen, the police and military who came to help. 4,000 children eventually developed thyroid cancer, 99.9% of them were subsequently cured.

    Regretably, these thyroid cancer cases could have been completely avoided had the then Soviet government not witheld information about the accident and also withheld the supply of supplemental iodine that needed to be taken as soon as possible after the accident.

    In the west, these iodine pills are in every househould within a given radius from an NPP, as required by law.

    The waste from a 620 MW Coal plant is 4.5 million tons of CO2 per year. CO2 is a gas, if it were made solid, it would be a small mountain, every single year. Add to this maybe up to 300,000 tons of ash which contains toxic heavy metals and radioactive uranium, thorium and radium.

    Please demonstrate where else you think that I have cherry picked, and I will address the point.

    What about the anti nukes, do you think that they “cherry pick”?

    You know, a pandemic of “swine flu” or “SARS” could wipe out whole populations in a short time. Should we ban poultries or hog farms now?

    May 17, 2009 | 5:32 pm

  69. Mark Cojuangco says:

    Hi Chuck!

    I voted for the renewable energy law. I believe in renewable energy. Its just not ready yet.

    Check out my previous post on; “baseload reserve capacity” (on my first post). Increasing this figure gives renewable bigger space on the grid. You really need to understand this if you want renewables to succeed.

    A law does not provide power. Installed power plants do.

    Hey, if you can find a way to make 3,000 MW of installed renewable capacity happen, and be economically viable, in three to five years, more power to you!!

    Since the law and the insentives are in place, I suppose that it will happen if it can happen.

    BNPP is not outdated. It is much more modern and is newer than Oyster Creek in New Jersey, which was just granted a 20 year operating license extention by the US NRC. Oyster Creek was first operated in 1964. On the other hand, BNPPs sister plant, the KORI II of Korea, has won awards for reliability and has bettered many US run plants.

    I’m sorry, but your other conclusions are just flat out, untrue. Not as a matter of opinion, but as a matter of fact.

    Nuclear has the lowest life cycle carbon footprint. Specially so if you close the fuel cycle.

    May 17, 2009 | 5:56 pm

  70. Tessa de Ryck says:

    I am delighted to hear that the honorable Congressman Mark Cojuangco counts himself an environmentalist on a mission to save the earth. I think it is funny that pro nukes folks call themselves environmentalists nowadays, a term many of them considered dirty in the 1980s and 1990s, when green had not yet become a fad. Had the Congressman indeed studies the entire nuclear chain, he should know by now that nuclear is not a “none carbon emitting electricity generating capacity”. I am not sure which studies he refers to but to state that nuclear emits much less than wind energy is a blatant lie.
    Before going into some of the other issues I also would like to stress here that the nuclear renaissance has not started yet, let alone is in process. It is important that people realize this because the reason it hasn’t started is that there are still too many problems related to nuclear power, the same ones as existed in the 20th century. It is true that licenses have been issued in the US, but as yet, no new reactors are being built. One of the most important reasons for that is economics.
    The US nuclear industry has a terrible record of construction delays and costs overruns. With the liberalization of the power sector, it has become hard to find investors brave enough to take the risk of financing nuclear power plants. In 2005, the US government has once again stepped in to save the nuclear industry with federal loan guarantees, risk insurance for delays not the fault of the licensee, as well as production tax credits for a limited number of new reactors. Without such subsidies it is unlikely that any US company would consider investing in a new nuclear power plant. When Mark says that politics is what is keeping new reactors from coming on the grid, he is wrong. It is economics.
    In his first posting on this blog he also said: “For information; in the 70s, the KORI II plant in Korea originally cost 550 million US$, much like ours. Its price escalated through the years till it was finally completed in ‘83 at a final cost of 1.05 billion US$. These escalations were typical of most if not all nuclear plants built during this era. this was caused by the demands for increased safety brought about by justified public concern. I suppose this was part of the evolution and maturation of the nuclear power industry.”
    The Congressman hits the nail on the head; indeed the nuclear power industry is constantly learning by trial and error. The problem is that they don’t seem to learn, however, because there is no ending to these delays and overruns. The newest reactors (Generation III) being built in Finland and France are experiencing very severe delays.It is already 1,7 Euros over the initially estimated budget of 3 billion. Foregone electricity sales add another 2 billion to the losses. . All of these extra costs will be borne by the Finnish rate- and taxpayers. While profits are privatized, risks are socialized.
    The value of the carbon market for nuclear power should also not be exaggerated. According to a prestigious 2003 MIT study comparing nuclear generating costs to fossil fuel generation option, nuclear power will remain to be expensive unless carbon taxes are in excess of $100/tC. Currently under the European carbon trade scheme, those number range from 2 to 30 Euros per tonne carbon, not even close to 100 USD, And yes Benjamin Sovaool is right, nuclear power is still receiving by far the most government money, in Europe,but especially in the US. Comparing the numbers of money going into R&D for nuclear, including for fusion research, with renewable sources is stunning.
    I am not Filipino, nor an expert on Philippine energy sector and I will therefore not respond to claims made by Mark Cojuangco relating especially to the Philippines. Nor will I react on the position of the Pope as I think that is another discussion. With all respect, but as far as I know, the Catholic Church does not possess the expertise on energy issues that would contribute to a valuable debate here. One thing I do want to respond to is Mark Cojuangco’s alleged claim of the role of the NRC during the construction of the BNPP, which I find highly doubtful. That seems very strange, as it is not the role of a national regulatory body to do supervision in a foreign country, also not when the company doing the construction is from their country. It is the responsibility of the regulatory body of the country the reactor is being built in, as in now the case in Finland for example, where STUK, the Finnish safety authority is doing the inspections of the work done by Areva, a French company.
    Even if what Mark C says were true, this is actually even more worrying, because that sort of special agreement would only be made if the national regulatory body at the time lacked the capacity to do its own inspections. What makes Mark Cojuangco think that at the present- mind you, the Philippines still need to form an independent regulator- there is capacity to properly oversee and control the upgrading of the BNPP, and just as importantly monitoring and controlling during the BNPPs future operations? Or has Mark Cojuangco been so blinded after all his rendez-vous with the pro nukes lobby that he is now convinced safety is not even an issue anymore? Another point where Mark Cojuangco himself needs to do more homework is on the sister plants, or other similar reactor models, of the BNPP. It accounts of either bravery or sheer ignorance to boast of the spotless record of other Westinghouse Light Water Reactors. Westinghouse reactors in general have terrible records and many have been plagued with temporary shutdowns.
    Angra 1, hidden away in a picturesque bay in Brazil, leaked radioactive water in May 2001, the gravity of which was played down by the government and had to be exposed by environmental groups. Before this incident, the reactor had already experienced a concerning number of shut downs. After an earthquake in 1988, which officials said did not cause any damage, the reactor had to be shut down repeatedly for ‘repairs’. In 1993 Angra-1 was shut down again for an indefinite period of time. And if you want to read something about Angra which is so outrageous it’s almost funny please visit http://www10.antenna.nl/wise/index.html?http://www10.antenna.nl/wise/482/4789.html
    The Krsko reactor in Slovenia experienced a leak in 2008, which was not as bad as was initially thought, but still caused a stir of panic among European nations. When accidents happen at nuclear sites, the public has every reason to panic, because if things do go terribly wrong, the consequences are widespread. KORI I experienced a forced outage of 37 hours in July 1987 due to the effects of a typhoon.
    Mark Cojuangco is right to stress the pollution and health hazards related to coal fired power plants as he did in his first posting on this blog: “In addition, BNPP will prevent the emmissions of 4.5 million tons per year of CO2, thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of tons of ash which contain toxic heavy metals such as lead, mercury, cadmium, etc. These are carcinogenic elements that do dot decay ie: they do not have a half life. In addition, these ashes contain uranium, thorium, radium. These are radioactive. Yes, you’re not reading this wrong. Fossil plants (coal plants which we currently run)are much, much more radioactive than nuclear plants could ever be. Just ask Sec. Steve Chu Phd., Nobel prize winner (physics)and the new US DOE Secratary of President Barack Obama. You can also ask the Chinese, who plan to mine the coal ash from their coal power plants for Uranium and Thorium. In the rest of the world, including the US, this stuff just lays around. So much for the one track minded greenpeace.”
    I am not sure where Mark Cojuangco heard about this Chinese masterplan, but that is just absolute nonsense. It is not surprising coming from an industry which suffers from severe delusions, continuing to make the same promises as it did in the 1960s, when they were close to finding a solution for waste and promised us fast breeders, which 40 years later and after billions of dollars spent, are still not working effectively. Extracting uranium from sources such as sea water, or even if it were possible coal ashes, would require so much energy that it is completely inefficient and will never become a realistic alternative for conventional fuel extraction.
    As for coal ashes, yes they are dangerous, but at least they can be filtered out and managed/stored in a proven way (they do not generate excess heat and cannot melt down for example, which is the case of high level nuclear waste). With nuclear fission we are creating the contamination ourselves. The risk of nuclear contamination comes mainly from fission and activation products, i.e. isotopes artificially created during the nuclear reaction – those are incomparably much more radioactive than natural uranium or thorium – and are produced in large quantities and some are highly volatile and extremely radiotoxic, such as cesium or iodine – even if a very limited accident happens and those escape, the doses and health impacts are beyond any comparision to fossil fuel emissions
    There has never been a case when people had to be evacuated and measures to protect population from surroundings of fossil plant because of radiation – but that has been the case of Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, Tokaimura and other places – this itself shows that the claim that fossil is much more radioactive than nuclear is a lie and nonsense. So even though Mark Cojuangco claims that nuclear energy is the safest way to generate electricity, liability issues remain a major obstacle for financing of nuclear power plants. And those high liability costs are there for a reason, if something goes wrong, it could impacts millions of people, as was the case in Chernobyl.
    It is simply false to say that besides Chernobyl there have been no deaths due to nuclear energy in the past 50 years. Facts like this can be easily found on the internet, so I would expect that the Congressman would have also read those.
    A final point I want to make is that it is telling that Mark refrains from going to deep into the waste issue. The only reference he makes to this is by wishing that the nuclear “cycle” will someday be closed and the the Swedes are leaders in this field. Reprocessing, which produces even higher radioactive waste and poses serious proliferation threats, is certainly not the answer. The truth is that there is still no answer and a world choosing the nuclear option is facing a future where waste management, with uranium mine tailings, plutonium from fission and highly radioactive materials from decommissioning, becomes a very costly and highly worrying task, requiring high security transports and 24 hour monitoring.

    May 17, 2009 | 6:06 pm

  71. Mark Cojuangco says:

    Also Chuck,

    Energy efficiency applies to all peoples but more so to those who consume a lot. Meaning, the richer countries. In this case, I think the Philippines is low on the list.

    Already one of the lowest per capita consumers in the region.

    By definition almost, a rise in standard of living implies an increase in per capita electricity consumption. I just don’t see how this can be denied.

    Do we want to condemn our people to a low standard of living? Is prosperity for our people not one of our national goals?

    How can we increase let alone maintain per capita consumption if the power is not available?

    May 17, 2009 | 6:10 pm

  72. chrisb says:

    read these 2 articles in sequence:




    “Weasel words” is what they cal it. More accurate than “spin” I guess.

    May 17, 2009 | 6:57 pm

  73. Gener says:

    There are many alternative power source in the country like WIND,GEOTHERMAL,AND SEA WAVES besides of Water Dams. only we needed to put more research on this alternatives like “HOW ARE WE GOING TO DO IT WITHOUT CORRUPTION” thats what the big question indeed! if those politicians will ever put their hands on it, they will expect big things for their already fat pockets since they hold the authority. We had ample global accepted natural power sources and few international source of funds were very reluctant to dip their cash on it as there is something that destructs their brains “those greedy authorities who may run the project?” Im reluctant to say bad reputation against my own but everyone knows it already and we are aware! poor little ME…

    May 17, 2009 | 7:30 pm

  74. James says:

    Congressman Cojuangco,

    It is good to see you here and responding. It is good of you to come here and post even considering the level of bile aimed at you and your fellow representatives.

    I’m an American living here. As such, I understand having disdain and mistrust for our representatives.

    You cite the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC, previously part of the AEC … Atomic Energy Commission). Like many US government agencies, the NRC has always been on the side of the nuclear power producers. Using their standards is simply a mistake.

    If you choose to use another nation’s standards, I would suggest looking at Japan or France. At least when it comes to fuel rod designs.

    You should consider looking into pebble bed nuclear reactors. These are radically different design. One that is safer. Chinese and South African companies are researching this design, originally from Germany, heavily.

    China has been experimenting with designs that can be shipped to a location and assembled using local lightly skilled labor. The primary design we read about is the HTR-10, a 10 megawatt reactor. These could be built near small municipalities to provide local power. Larger models (210MW and 250MW, now in testing) could be used for larger cities … or in multiples for major metro centers.

    The main benefits from this design is that building is simpler and easier, meltdowns are far, far less likely (if not impossible), waste cannot be weaponized, and the waste is easier to handle.

    You have eloquently stated that your desire is to provide affordable and reliable power for the Philippines. This may be your way.


    May 17, 2009 | 8:39 pm

  75. James says:

    PS –

    I agree with your points that some of the renewable technologies are not as convenient as say gas, coal, and nuclear. This is simply a fact. When electricity is put on the grid, you either use it or you lose it. Without some kind of massive storage scheme, you just lose any excess that you’ve generated.

    However, by using technologies such as solar, wind, even wave power, you reduce the need for traditional non-renewable sources when the renewable source is providing electricity.

    If the wind is blowing, windmills reduce the amount of coal or gas power you need to generate. If the sun is shining, same is true with solar cells.

    One of the major problems with power in the Philippines is that you are a nation of islands. Power distribution is a big problem. Power loss and degradation are going to make centralized generation impractical.

    Look for solutions that can work at a local level. Match technologies to locales.

    The Philippines is a nation of imaginative and resourceful people. I’m sure there is something you can do besides bringing a 30 year old worn out nuclear plant out of mothballs.

    Show the world what the Philippines can really do when it wants to.

    May 17, 2009 | 8:47 pm

  76. Chuck Baclagon says:

    Hello Mr. Cojuangco with all due respect if it is true indeed that you voted for the Renewable Energy Bill why don’t you lead the movement in the Philippine Congress that puts its money where its mouth is. To use your words renewable energy won’t be ready simply because those who have the power to appropriate resources would still opt to go for an outdated technology. Now my question would be why nukes? Instead of renewable energy?

    May I know where you stand on the issue of coal? Because, there is a nasty coal plant in your district, the Sual Cola-Fired Power Plant, are you ok with that?

    Also for all of those who want to bring their voice to congress please visit http://www.greenpeace.org.ph/bnpp =)

    May 17, 2009 | 10:13 pm

  77. Mark Cojuangco says:


    Sorry I was not in politics when Sual was built. At that time, the “climate change” S hadn’t “hit the fan” yet, so to speak.

    Coal capacity is already there, and the capacity we have, we can’t afford to get away from. We will have to use them till their economic lifetimes expire.

    However, we should stop building any more, if at all possible. This can only happen if we have nukes to fill in the new capacity requirements and replace expiring coal capacity.

    As I have been trying repeatedly to say; The Philippines is not a country with the kind of money that can see that kind of research through. If the US has been at it for over 30 years and it still is not there yet, and I think that they are in a better tech position than we are, why should we risk our scarce resources (hard currency, katas ofw) on a gamble?

    The Philippine Congress has already put its money where its mouth is with the renewable energy act. The incentives and priority dispatch policies it gives to renewables are “to die for” and worth Billions in foregone income to the government and the balance of the power industry not to mention the public and, they give renewables a leg up on everything else. If they can’t survive with these, then they can’t survive.

    I mean, there is a limit to how much support you can give, after which you become unrealistic.

    For example in Germany;
    “Homes and businesses earn a government-guaranteed price of as much as 47 euro cents ($0.74) for each kilowatt-hour of solar power they generate” (bloomberg, van loon)

    This is about 35 pesos/kWh. Are we willing to subsidize this price? I think its ridiculous for a poor country to do this. We are dying at 10 pesos already.

    Renewables already benefit from CDMs. Other power sources don’t enjoy this.

    from a report on German renewable subsidies for example;

    “German utility firm E.On recently cited a study from the Deutsche-Energie Agentur. The report was sponsored by the German government and all sides of the industry. Among bombshells contained inside, the study suggests that while wind power capacity will reach 48 GW by 2020 in Germany, the source is so intermittent and unreliable that it is equivalent to only 2 GW of stable fossil fuel capacity.” (by Eben Esterhuizen, the panelist)

    What we need is proven “base load” technology. The 2 economic choices are; coal, nuclear. Take your pick.

    Hydro has its limitations; remember the social turmoil caused by the efforts to build Chico River? Same with geothermal, with its set of emmission and environmental, economic, and social issues.

    I have already answered the question several times over but, you may read another full answer to your “why nukes instead of renewables?” question when I post my reply to Mark Dia tomorrow.

    May 18, 2009 | 3:08 am

  78. Mark Cojuangco says:


    Well, the coal ash is exposed for you to fall on, swim in, or breath in if it dries up and gets blown about by the wind. Matter of fact, some of it goes up the stack. When it gets wet with rain, its everywhere with the water and it leaches.

    Also, every running coal plant has mountains of it. Why don’t you try taking a geiger counter there. You will find a reading higher than the natural background. You won’t find the same thing in a running nuke plant. In fact, the running nuke plant will likely read the same as the background.

    There is none of this S in a nuke plant. Compared to coal plants, nuke plants are absolutely clean, inside and out. I’ve been to a few. There is no comparison.

    Further, I never said that; “coal ash was more radioactive than nuclear waste”. Although in fact, it may be more radioactive than some “low level” waste.

    What I did say was that; “coal ash and coal plants was more radioactive than a nuclear Plant” or even “a running nuclear plant”

    There is a difference between the two statements you know. The one doesn’t mean the other.

    As for “weasel words”;

    Your above manipulation of what was said, is a good example. Quite typical.

    I personally prefer to use BS or CS, which is really what you may be selling.

    May 18, 2009 | 3:55 am

  79. Mark Cojuangco says:


    The BNPP rehab as estimated by the METTS study done by an Australian Eng. Company in 1995 was to cost US$ 380M.

    My bill sets a limit of US$ 1B. This is to assure enough funds for a quality rehab and yet not give a “blank check”.

    A new nuke plant of the same size will cost between 4 to 5 Billion US$.

    A new coal plant of the same size will cost US$ 1B. But, BNPP will deliver power at 2 pesos/kWh cheaper. At 4.5 BkWh/ year, that’s 9B pesos a year savings. Also huge are the dollar forex savings on the difference between nuke fuel and coal. And BNPP still makes a profit at these prices. See my previous posts on this.

    A running BNPP for US$ 1B is therefore, a bargain. It can only be so because, it has already been paid for.

    And so, I disagree. To steal, its better to have a new plant.

    May 18, 2009 | 4:19 am

  80. Mark Cojuangco says:

    Tessa de Ryck


    Are you Dutch?

    May 18, 2009 | 4:51 am

  81. Roszhien says:

    The Presidential Task Force on Energy Contingency, headed by Angelo Reyes, is considering the revival of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant, according to earthtimes.org:

    Manila is giving thought to reviving a mothballed nuclear power plant in a bid to reduce dependence on fossil fuel for energy amid skyrocketing oil prices, a senior official said Monday. Philippines Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes said a presidential task force on energy discussed on Monday the possibility of commissioning the 630-megawatt nuclear power plant in Morong town in Bataan province, 90 kilometres north-west of Manila.

    Maybe they shouldn’t consider the “nuclear option” at all; this sounds eerily familiar.
    History Repeating Itself?

    According to an article we cited last April, the commission of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant was a “knee-jerk reaction” to the oil crisis of the 1970s. The same uncertainty about our society’s dependence on oil-based energy is very familiar to what newspapers and op-eds are screaming nowadays.

    We definitely have to find some way to reduce our reliance on gasoline, which we have to import. Here’s where technology can come in. Still, this development sounds like history repeating itself, and there are no apparent answers to practicality issues. The earthtimes.org article cites the mothballed plant’s potential capacity at 630 megawatts. As we’ve already written, that’s nowhere near enough to meet just Luzon’s need for 12,000 megawatts of power.

    Let’s also hope that the Task Force’s consideration of alternative energy sources is a genuine exploration of what we can do. Not a group that produces high-profile solutions meant to show that someone’s doing something. The Bataan Nuclear Power Plant never produced a single unit of electricity, yet represented over $1 Billion in debt payments for the Philippine government.

    May 18, 2009 | 12:17 pm

  82. Tessa de Ryck says:

    Dear Congressman,
    I would just like to add one comment about Energy Efficiency. I agree that of course Filipinos deserve a higher standard of living, which is probably one of your country’s biggest challenges. I highly doubt nuclear power will deliver that though, but anyway, you are right, it should not be poor people who become victims of more stringent efficiency measures. But poor people can actually benefit most from EE.

    Energy efficiency does not only come from the part of consumers. Actually, the largest role here is for the industrial and power generating sectors to increase their efficiency. A lot of generated power gets lost through transmission and distribution. In developing countries this is much higher than in developed nations. According to the World Bank, transmission losses are as high as 22% in the Philippines. In countries with more efficient grids they are lower than 10%. If we can avoid these losses (for which of course we do need investment, but those are not as high as for new generating capacity) we avoid investments in new generating capacity and have lower electricity rates, which will benefit poor people as well.

    For that matter, decentralised systems are the most beneficial for those (rural) communities which have no access to the central grid. Especially for island nations such as the Philippines or Indonesia. And decentralised systems are best powered by renewable energy technologies, which are also the most transparent and democratic sources of energy.

    May 18, 2009 | 12:18 pm

  83. Nadine Galza says:

    I am a taxpayer and I don’t want a nuclear power plant, much more…a jurassic one like the BNPP operating anywhere in the Philippines.

    Isn’t it time to focus on solutions instead of taking risks?

    Congressman, think of your constituents and not of your family’s businesses.

    May 18, 2009 | 12:49 pm

  84. James says:


    I notice you ignored my posts. I hope that was a simple mistake and not intentional.

    I’m actually with you on the nuclear camp. Just against the refurbishment of BNPP. You will be spending a lot more than US$1B to bring that up-to-speed, we both know that. Once you spend US$1B, it won’t be complete. After you spend that money, there will be cries to finish what you’ve done after spending so much cash.

    With the Philippines geography, a large centralized plant is a mistake. With 22% transmission loss, it’s a catastrophic mistake.

    Pebble bed nuclear reactors can come as small, modular pieces or larger ones. Please, read up on these. Hit Google and search for “HTR-10 demonstration 20-09” and you will find many good documents.

    Your US$1B budget to fix the BNPP could be used to build 500MW to 1000MW worth of pebble bed reactors depending upon whose numbers you believe. Given operating and disposal costs running between 2 to 4 cents (yes, P1 to P2) per kWh.

    Clean, cheap, safe, decentralized.

    Your argument that Germany is paying 47 Eurocents (US$0.63, not double, as you mistakenly said) per kWh is cherry-picking data. Besides, you don’t have to follow their model. Germany is a First World country with the money and resources to implement that sort of program.

    The Philippines should try to benefit from such programs. See if you can purchase solar panels from manufacturers in Germany who are now benefiting from economies of scale. Let the First World help drive down prices so that the Philippines can benefit.

    Please don’t make the mistake of spending $1B+ on antiquated technology when other, newer technologies can do the job you need.

    May 18, 2009 | 2:16 pm

  85. chrisb says:

    Huh? How exactly did I manipulate your words, Mr. Congressman from Pangasinan? I quoted your words verbatim, copy and paste, and my other post was just a link to an article from scientific american and cejournal.

    May 18, 2009 | 7:59 pm

  86. Mark Cojuangco says:

    you may characterize it as “knee jerk reaction” to the 70s oil crisis if you want, although I don’t agree because you can’t buy a nuke plant at the corner store.

    However, France did the same thing. The difference between us and them is that they carried it through. They had the political will. They did not allow parochial politics to get in the way of their goals.

    The shortfall of Luzon is 3,000 MW by 2012, not 12,000.

    I don’t understand your objection to a “high profile” solution. This is not a new initiative. This is already in place and paid for.

    A new NPP of this size costs between 4 – 5B US$. This one can be running for within 1 B US$. It will have a minimum life of 40 yrs. It is a best buy, for what it is.

    If you are from the US, then this plant is much newer than many of your plants there, and in much better shape.

    For your information, the Philippines, in its attempt to get out of its obligations to pay for BNPP, during the Cory and then Ramos administrations, lost its case of arbitration in Geneva. Because, it could not be proven that there was anything wrong with the BNPP.

    That’s why we still had to pay a final total of 2.119 B US$. 699M of which was interest.

    The plant actually ran already in 85, in a simulation process or what is called a “hot function test”. BNPP then, took electric power from the grid, used this to heat up its reactor, to generate steam, to test the plant system by system over a period of one year, and to generate power. It generated 5 MW which it put back into the grid.

    All that was left to do, for it to become a fully operating NPP was for the loading of its first batch of nuclear fuel, and for it to undergo the subsequent initial warm up period which takes a year. As you can see, these processes are structured, sequential and can not be rushed.

    BNPP should have have produced 4.5B kWh/year since 1986. Till now, that’s 23 yrs. x 4.5, that’s 103 B kWh. x the current price of power pesos 4.50/ kWh, that’s 463 B pesos, almost half a Trillion pesos lost in electricity value alone. Further, interest on the amount due, would not have accrued.

    To blame on the plant, and its status then, why it did not produce a single watt, is ludicrous.

    It was a conciuos decision, not to run the plant.

    I can accept, without laying blame, that the reason for its shut down was concern for safety, in the light of three mile and/or Chernobyl. That was a good reason then, for that decision. And, can be respected despite the consequential costs.

    But, in the light of nuclear power’s history after Chernobyl, specially the history of BNPP’s sister plants, that reason is no longer valid today. In hindsight, history has proven that decision to be wrong. So, are we to learn from history? Or, should history repeat itself?

    May 18, 2009 | 9:50 pm

  87. Mallory says:

    Either way… I think you should listen to the people who do not want to spend $800 million of our taxes or worse, incur more foreign debt just to take such a horrible risk to our lives and to the environment.

    We do not want the Bataan plant to run EVER.

    May 18, 2009 | 11:07 pm

  88. EF! says:

    Perhaps the number of people over at Greenpeace’s petition on http://www.greenpeace.org.ph/bnpp is a good indicator of how unpopular the BNPP is however it is also noteworthy that in spite of its unpopularity the BNPP bill will still be pushed into legislation…

    May 19, 2009 | 1:24 am

  89. Chuck Baclagon says:

    For those who wish to become more informed on the issue of the BNPP and Nukes the best place for resources is the reference library of the Network Opposed to the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant which you can visit by following this link http://notobnpp.wordpress.com/resources/

    May 19, 2009 | 1:27 am

  90. Amalie Conchelle H. Obusan says:

    Congressman Cojuangco,

    You say that you voted for the Renewable Energy Law and yet you continuously discriminate renewable energy sources as not yet commercially viable. Perhaps you have not read the 2009 REN21 report so allow me to give you some highlights:

    1. Global power capacity from new renewable energy rose to 16% from 240,000 MW in 2007 to 280,000 MW ending 2008, which is 3 times the capacity of the nuclear sector of the United States.
    2. More renewable energy than conventional power capacity was added in both the EU and the US.
    3. The growth of the sector has surpassed all predictions even those made by the industry itself — growth due to favorable policies on climate change and energy security.
    4. 73 countries have renewable energy targets, up from 66 at the end of 2007.
    5. China’s total wind power doubled for the fifth year in a
    row, ending the year above 12 GW and breaching China’s
    2010 development target of 10 GW two years early.
    6. RE resisted the credit crunch more successfully than many other sectors. New investments reached US$120 billion.
    7. Wind power capacity grew by 29% to reach 121 GW, while grid-connected solar capacity increased by as much as 70%.

    You see Mr. Cojuangco, renewable energy technologies are consistently beating the odds, delivering its targets and in most cases much earlier than anticipated. Compare that now to the track record of nuclear capacity. Reneable energy and energy efficiency are the superior solutions to climate change and energy security. Furthermore, they don’t carry the risks associated with nuclear power.

    And please Mr. Cojuangco, don’t be so self-righteous as to say you are opposed to coal-fired power plants. Your family after all is bidding on the Calaca coal plant, one of the dirtiest in the country and which, by the way, has been found to have gross environmental violations.

    If you are indeed serious in delivering this country from the high cost of electricity, then push for energy efficiency measures and more renewable energy investments.

    May 19, 2009 | 2:04 am

  91. Mark Cojuangco says:

    No. I did not ignore your posts. Just too many.

    Well, I respect your preferences in tech.

    But, the PWR which is what BNPP is, is the tech of choice for 70% of NPPs world wide. It is proven, it has a history, and therefore is predictable.

    Also, the pebble bed reactor is not yet a commercially proven design, although very promising. With some years of accumulated commercial operating history, it may become a very successful technology. Only time will tell.

    Again, the Philippines is not in a position to take that kind of financial risk so that a tech may be proven. We need something specific that is known to work and has a good track record. BNPP is such.

    “Your argument that Germany is paying 47 Eurocents (US$0.63, not double, as you mistakenly said) per kWh is cherry-picking data.”

    You are right, its not double. Thanks. But, the amount in pesos remains very high at 26 pesos/kWh though. About 2.5 x our retail prices in Manila.

    Sorry, I am not their editor. I quoted directly from Bloomberg. I cut and paste directly from their article.

    Can you explain how it is that you feel I “cherry picked”?

    But, it does not detract from the point, and what I’m saying is; That this is what it has cost Germany to implement. Its expensive and we can’t afford it. The same is true for Switzerland and some other Euro countries that are aggressively into renewables. Their subsidy rates are extremely high. Some higher than Germany.

    Its not a matter of following a model, its a matter of the underlying costs. Its just expensive right now.

    The technology you are calling “antiquated” will be around in the current plants worldwide for at least another 40 years and possibly 60 years. And in plants recently completed for 60 to possibly 80 years, if not longer.

    As previously stated, the oldest US plant, Oyster Creek in New Jersey, was just granted a 20 year license extention three weeks ago. This plant was built in 1964. BNPP is 20 years newer and better than this NPP.

    May 19, 2009 | 3:09 am

  92. chrisb says:

    from http://www.frcblog.com/2009/01/change-watch-backgrounder-steven-chu/

    Nuclear Power

    Worried about radioactivity? Coal’s still your bogeyman. Dr. Chu says a typical coal plant emits 100 times more radiation than a nuclear plant, given the flyash emissions of radioactive particles.

    That doesn’t mean nuclear power is much better. “The waste and proliferation issues [surrounding nuclear power] still haven’t been completely solved,” he said. A big part of the Department of Energy’s job is to oversee nuclear weapons and waste storage. And the Obama campaign made clear that increased reliance on nuclear power will require finding a “safe” way to dispose of radioactive waste.
    So that’s what he said! And even so, he is very honest with the dangers. Contrast that with your “verbatim” quote of his statement:

    “Fossil plants (coal plants which we currently run)are much, much more radioactive than nuclear plants could ever be. Just ask Sec. Steve Chu Phd., Nobel prize winner (physics)and the new US DOE Secratary of President Barack Obama.”

    I searched for the first sentence online hoping to find it being attributed to Secy. Chu but the quotes from him on different sites were consistent. He said that “a typical coal plant emits 100 times more radiation than a nuclear plant”

    There is a huge difference between the 2, you know? And even if you quoted him correctly, do you think such a statement is credible?

    The phrase “could ever be” is absolute and really sends this statement out of the ballpark in absurdity! Would your typical coal plant still be more radioactive than a nuclear power plant even in the event of a meltdown?!?

    May 19, 2009 | 3:45 am

  93. chrisb says:

    Let me clarify as well that I am no leftist militant and I have nothing personal against you, my issue really is the downplaying of risks. I am not in favor of coal over nuclear. In fact, as I’ve stated earlier, I am open to nuclear power and compared to coal, I look at nuclear more favorably. This is a very important debate and you can do the people a favor by being precise in your words and concise with your data. I think a lot of people are looking for a credible player in this debate and wouldn’t it be great if it were you? That’s all.

    May 19, 2009 | 4:05 am

  94. Mark Cojuangco says:


    Sure. Proven at Three Mile Island.

    May 19, 2009 | 5:13 am

  95. Mark Cojuangco says:

    Hey chris,

    It was you that started with “Weasel words”.

    If we can put that aside, I’d like to say that I am not downplaying the risks nor am I even trying to downplay the risks. But the fears are way out of proportion to the real risks.

    You have to admit, there is an overwhelming amount of “up playing” going on in practically all of these posts. Most of them are not by intention, but they are a regurgitation of propaganda and myth.

    If you would just try to be a bit more quantitative about your assesment of these risks, then maybe we can find some middle ground to have a more constructive debate.

    Maybe you can start by trying to understand natural background radiation levels. You may be surprised to know how relatively high they are, even inside you.

    And, you may be curious to know what they are, in common places of different parts of the world. And, what human activities affect their levels.

    People fail to realize that we live, submerged in an ocean of radiation and that it is a part of nature, and is in practically everything. We evolved and live with it all around us 24/7.

    May 19, 2009 | 5:52 am

  96. Mark Cojuangco says:


    You said;

    “I am not in favor of coal over nuclear. In fact, as I’ve stated earlier, I am open to nuclear power and compared to coal, I look at nuclear more favorably.”

    Glad to hear this from you. But, this is just what is happening here.

    And, if Greenpeace is really against Coal as well, what are we supposed to use? Candles.

    May 19, 2009 | 5:58 am

  97. Jason Reyes says:

    “If there is a big reason why we don’t succeed as a nation, its because we love to take ourselves down. Other peoples don’t respect us because we love to make ourselves the butt of our own jokes and because of our defeatism.

    Kung talunan po and tingin ninyo sa sarili niyo, huwag niyo naman po sanang idamay ang iba.”

    Di naman siguro sir. We don’t succeed because our leaders simply refuse to lead us to success.

    A country’s people can only do so much. We work Monday to Saturday (Hindi Monday to Thursday lang ha) pay taxes, follow laws, be active in the community—we follow the government’s lead! But when it comes to “leading the nation to success”, aba kami din nakasalalay? Kami may kasalanan na mataas presyo ng bilihin? Na laging may nakawan ng pera sa gobyerno? Krimen? Naku po, sir with all due respect, wag na natin ipasa ang blame.

    As far as being defeatist, it probably is true but it’s not without reason. Just look around. People don’t respect us because of ZTE, Euro Generals, Hello Garci and a gajillion other things, and not jokes about ourselves.

    May 19, 2009 | 8:52 am

  98. Jun b says:

    To all the people here, Filipinos, American, Dutch, Swiss, etc… Think about what you cannot do against the mother earth, look at your mountains, rivers and seas …. Would it be more important to think about saving all this rather than building one that has a potential to further damage no matter how small the possibilty is. Why do the congress worries so much about power source in 2013, 2014 if millions of filipino people living below the poverty and worry more about the food they will eat rather than electric for their home. If the people in the goverment truly cares about your people…Then think about how you can provide them jobs and food on their table. There’s one thing I’m sure that I will not last another 40-50 years in this earth but the nuclear waste that generated from that plant will last longer than my kids and the generation to come. I will definitely spend the rest of my years to oppose this nuclear technology. I might not have the might to do this but at least one voice if collectively put together will become a shout and a nuissance to the people who advocate nuclear power.

    May 19, 2009 | 9:02 am

  99. spidergrrl says:

    Perhaps this link would better illustrate the effects of the Chernobyl disaster. It’s a photo documentary by a man who took a tour of the area in the last quarter of 2008. It’s a chilling look at one of the world’s worst — if not *the* worst — man-made disasters. Here’s the link:


    For those interested in reading more about the Chernobyl disaster, please visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chernobyl_disaster for a quick glance at the events that led to the reactor’s explosion.

    Quoting Wikipedia:

    “It is considered to be the worst nuclear power plant disaster in history and the only level 7 instance on the International Nuclear Event Scale. It resulted in a severe release of radioactivity into the environment following a massive power excursion which destroyed the reactor.”

    For a more in depth look at the issues and the international efforts to rehabilitate the area still being implemented 23 years later, please visit http://www.chernobyl.info/index.php.

    Quoting from the statements issued on the site:

    “Almost all issues dealing with radiation have health lasting effects unclear both to the stakeholders and the general public.”

    Irina Abalkina, Senior Researcher for Nuclear Safety Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences


    “Chernobyl is a global environment event of a new kind. It is characterized by the presence of thousands of environmental refugees, longterm contamination of land, water and air and possibly irreparable damage to ecosystems.”

    Christine K. Durbak, Chairwoman of World Information Transfer, New York


    “The half-life of our memory of catastrophes such as Chernobyl is only a small fraction of the half-life of those radioactive isotopes that were released by the exploding reactor on 26 April 1986 in Ukraine. With this in mind, we see the http://www.chernobyl.info Internet platform as a manifesto against forgetting.”

    Walter Fust, Director General, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) in 1993-2008


    Quoting Mark Cojuangco:

    “And, if Greenpeace is really against Coal as well, what are we supposed to use? Candles. ”

    This argument is futile and juvenile, Mr. Cojuangco, and unworthy of someone who professes to be a leader of the land. Greenpeace is against dirty technologies, yes, but it is not against progress. It is advocating clean, alternative energy sources instead of traditional sources that history has proven time and again to be detrimental to the planet’s well being. Why do we keep pushing for dirty technology when, clearly, alternative sources exist? Nuclear technology is hazardous at best and disastrous at worst. Even the US cannot handle nuclear and hazardous waste disposal; the mere existence of the Superfund demonstrates this. Billions of dollars are spent every year to clean up contaminated sites in the US. Do we have that much money to clean up ours?

    The true bottom line of all this, Mr. Congressman, is not the row of numbers preceded by a peso sign at the end of your report. The true bottom line is the health and welfare of the Filipino people and this great country that I am still proud to call my home. I, as a Filipino, am obligated to think of the welfare of my fellows as well as my own. It would do you well to remember that, and to remember that public servants have a duty to protect the people’s interests, not their own.

    May 19, 2009 | 10:22 am

  100. Nadine Galza says:

    Marc C. – ” And, if Greenpeace is really against Coal as well, what are we supposed to use? Candles. ”

    Greenpeace has been promoting renewable energy solutions. The point is not to build any more coal plants… new investments must be towards cleaner technologies like renewable energy.

    $800 million to refurbish a sleeping dinosaur does not make any sense. Use the funds for renewable energy!!!

    May 19, 2009 | 12:21 pm

  101. Nadine Galza says:

    I just signed the petition. I urge others to do so as well. Let everyone you care about know that we should stop the BNPP from running.


    May 19, 2009 | 12:23 pm

  102. Ususera says:

    We have better, cleaner, and safer alternatives to Nuclear energy. Let’s push for that. Keep our country, as well as our intentions for the Philippines, CLEAN.

    Let’s not wait til 2010 to make a decision. Saying NO TO NUKES can save our country from far more debt and destruction.

    Thank you for the link, Nadine.

    May 19, 2009 | 1:18 pm

  103. James says:


    I understand the position you are in. The Philippines cannot afford to invest huge sums into technologies that will be useful later.

    Please ignore the bit about cherry picking, it doesn’t add anything to the debate on either side.

    You correctly cite that Oyster Creek has been given 20 more years of life. Please keep in mind that this is a plant that has been working since 1964 and has maintenance.

    Has BNPP had constant maintenance? I suspect not. More likely it has been allowed to be exposed to the harsh elements of the Philippine climate.

    Please consider the use of pebble bed reactors. They are farther along than you appear to think. Initial investment is low and power prices are very good.


    May 19, 2009 | 2:54 pm

  104. spidergrrl says:

    Perhaps this link would better illustrate the effects of the Chernobyl disaster. It’s a photo documentary by a man who took a tour of the area in the last quarter of 2008. It’s a chilling look at one of the world’s worst — if not *the* worst — man-made disasters. Here’s the link:


    For those interested in reading more about the Chernobyl disaster, please visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chernobyl_disaster for a quick glance at the events that led to the reactor’s explosion.

    Quoting Wikipedia:

    “It is considered to be the worst nuclear power plant disaster in history and the only level 7 instance on the International Nuclear Event Scale. It resulted in a severe release of radioactivity into the environment following a massive power excursion which destroyed the reactor.”

    For a more in depth look at the issues and the international efforts to rehabilitate the area still being implemented 23 years later, please visit http://www.chernobyl.info/index.php.

    Quoting Mark Cojuangco:

    “And, if Greenpeace is really against Coal as well, what are we supposed to use? Candles. ”

    This argument is futile and juvenile, Mr. Cojuangco, and unworthy of someone who professes to be a leader of the land. Greenpeace is against dirty technologies, yes, but it is not against progress. It is advocating clean, alternative energy sources instead of traditional sources that history has proven time and again to be detrimental to the planet’s well being. Why do we keep pushing for dirty technology when, clearly, alternative sources exist? Nuclear technology is hazardous at best and disastrous at worst. Even the US cannot handle nuclear and hazardous waste disposal; the mere existence of the Superfund demonstrates this. Billions of dollars are spent every year to clean up contaminated sites in the US. Do we have that much money to clean up ours?

    The true bottom line of all this, Mr. Congressman, is not the row of numbers preceded by a peso sign at the end of your report. The true bottom line is the health and welfare of the Filipino people and this great country that I am still proud to call my home. I, as a Filipino, am obligated to think of the welfare of my fellows as well as my own. It would do you well to remember that, and to remember that public servants have a duty to protect the people’s interests, not their own.

    May 19, 2009 | 3:10 pm

  105. chrisb says:

    But I am still not convinced about the BNPP. One thing that hasn’t been discussed yet is how much do other countries spend on regulating their nuclear power industry? And do we have the budget to set up our own in case the BNPP is commissioned?

    Another question, aren’t the old NPPs you cited regularly upgraded to whatever the current safety standards are? I find it hard to believe that “the Oyster Creek NPP in New Jersey is.. maintained to the standards of its era.” Would that mean that the US has multiple standards for nuclear plants depending on the era in which it was built?

    May 19, 2009 | 3:33 pm

  106. akosigundam says:

    What fund? Is it true, Mr Cojuangco, that half of the $ 1 bilion rehab cost will be shouldered by the taxpayers? Can’t you find enough investors? Must the burden of financing the rehab fall on us, once again?

    May 19, 2009 | 4:56 pm

  107. chrisb says:

    And what does Chernobyl prove? I know that incidence of such a catastrophic failure has indeed been very rare but it is not entirely impossible. People, I guess by nature, are averse to huge, rare but catastrophic failures such as that. Constant low level risks are better tolerated even though in the long run, when you have everything considered, it may cause much more harm or damage.

    May 19, 2009 | 6:32 pm

  108. Mark Cojuangco says:


    Yes, the BNPP has had constant maintenance. 40M pesos/ year since 86. Plus during the years right after 86 till about 90 or 91, about 3Billion pesos was spent as the plant was kept in a condition of readiness so that it could be started up at a moments notice. Total expenditures since then till now approach 4 Billion pesos.

    It is not passive maintenance either. The turbine is regularly turned. The hydrazine solutions in the steam generators are checked regularly by a full time chemist. The facility is spic and span. The asset preservation team of Napocor has done a tremendous job all these years.

    Besides, the materials used are mostly superalloys in massive structures. Hardly subject to corrosion.

    May 19, 2009 | 6:41 pm

  109. James says:


    Thank you for your responses. It is good that the plant has been maintained.

    A minor point: _everything_ is subject to corrosion and deterioration. However, if, as you say, the plant has been properly maintained, then it should be good-to-go.

    I can understand why you would want to bring the plant out from mothballs. Personally, I still wouldn’t.

    Going with alternatives may be a harder road. But, sometimes the hard road is the right road.

    I hope you have truly taken what I and others have written to heart. And, I truly hope that whatever decision is made will the right decision for the Philippines.

    If it is decided to re-start BNPP, please be careful. When those plants have problems, they’re huge. And, there’s no clean up in the world that will detoxify the area.

    I love the Philippines. I plan to stay here. I want it to stay beautiful.

    I’m sure you do, too.

    May 19, 2009 | 7:07 pm

  110. Mark Cojuangco says:


    I was of a similar opinion to you when I first started research on BNPP.

    But yes, “of its era”.

    To change something is to redesign. A redesign requires re evaluation and re certification. Unless mandated by specific orders of NRC for specific modifications, these things are more often left as is, and will remain so for the life of the plant.

    As far as design is concerned, it is as they say, “if it is proven and works, don’t fix it”.

    It does not mean that old worn parts are used. Parts are replaced with new at the mandatory service intervals.

    In KORI II for example, the printed circuit boards being used today are identical to the ones at BNPP. I’ve seen the actual ones. There is a whole industry that manufactures these parts as new parts, and services them.

    The design concept behind these things seem to be; simple but robust. There are only a handfull of different types of circuit boards used in the control system.

    May 19, 2009 | 7:12 pm

  111. Mark Cojuangco says:


    Yes I do.

    May 19, 2009 | 7:15 pm

  112. Mark Cojuangco says:


    There are investors that want to do this for free. Yes, free.

    But, if we allow that, they will pass on the power at just a slight discount from the present Napocor rates. Maybe a few centavos/kWh, and pocket the rest of the savings as additional profits.

    If we (Juan dela Cruz)are to benefit from the lower generating costs of nuclear, then, the only way for that to happen is that we should own the plant.

    As stated, the selling cost wholesale for BNPP power will be about pesos 2.50/kWh, therefore there is at least 2 pesos/ kWh difference between this and current Napocor wholesale prices of 4.50, or 9Billion pesos/year. In addition to this, the 2.50 includes all costs including finance and depreciation.

    It is not a tax because it is to be returned as soon as BNPP starts operations. It is an investment.

    Whether this bill makes it or not, you should realize that the consumer, at the end of the day, will end up paying for any other kind of plant built, even if it is owned by the private sector. In addition, the consumer will pay for the financial costs and the higher cost of non nuclear power. This will all happen through the price of the power sold.

    Please do not imagine for a moment, that in the current scheme of things, you are getting power from “free” plants, just because they are owned by private entities.

    May 19, 2009 | 8:32 pm

  113. Mark Cojuangco says:

    Nadine Galza

    I’ve addressed this in the other posts.

    May 19, 2009 | 8:34 pm

  114. Mark Cojuangco says:


    Well, won’t you at least grant that 100 x is even similar to “much, much more”?

    “The waste and proliferation issues [surrounding nuclear power] still haven’t been completely solved,”

    This, your quote from Steve Chu. And yet, they forge ahead with nuclear power. It shows confidence that the issues can and will be solved. He is stating the obvious.

    As I said earlier, the issues are not technical in nature, but rather, political. As a technologist, his actions, the licensure of new plants and the relicensing of the old, together with the recognition that nuclear has a role to play, imply that a politically correct, technical solution, will be arrived at.

    May 19, 2009 | 8:51 pm

  115. Mark Cojuangco says:


    Chernobyl proves that the Soviets did not provide for what happened, but was forseen by the west. They did this, to save on cost.

    It does/did not have a containment structure. Nor was containment a doctrine in the design philosophy.

    For economy, the reactor was made of graphite. A building material which was rejected in the West for power generation, after the early experimental reactors in the University of Chicago Gym, and Oak Ridge.

    An illegal experiment caused the accident. An experiment with untested equipment in a commercial plant. This is not done in the west. Experiments are done in experimental plants, not commercial plants.

    The soviets were outside the loop from the west’s industry peer review process.

    This peer review is currently unmatched by any other industry. Simply, the world’s nuclear power industry can not afford another accident. It would be the end of it. For this reason, it would be difficult if not impossible to hide anything. There are too many international whistle blowers.

    May 19, 2009 | 9:03 pm

  116. Benjamin K Sovacool says:


    Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes once said that “It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suite theories, instead of theories to suit facts.” That sounds exactly like what you are doing.

    I’ll take just two points to keep the discussion simple. First, greenhouse gas emissions from nuclear power plants. Nuclear power plants are in no way better than wind turbines, or any other form of renewable power supply for that matter. You mention one study that I’ve never heard of. My claim comes from a peer-reviewed study published in the academic journal Energy Policy, which looked at 103 different lifecycle estimates for nuclear power plants. The study’s conclusion? Nuclear power had a worse emissions profile than every conceivable renewable resource, including solar thermal and hydroelectric. Wind energy had a lifecycle emissions profile six times better than nuclear power. You can download the study for free at http://www.nirs.org/climate/background/sovacool_nuclear_ghg.pdf and see for yourself.

    Second, subsidies and current energy costs. The data that I mentioned above from the United Nations quoting levelized costs of electricity already presumed renewable energy performance without subsidies. If you adjust the price of nuclear power to do the same, it’s three to four times more expensive than wind energy and about even with solar PV, the most expensive renewable technology on the market. In no way do global energy subsidies favor renewables. Historically, I’m sure you know that from 1950 to 2006 nuclear energy received more than three times the amount of subsidies for renewables.

    Taking data from the nonpartisan International Energy Agency and looking at 2007, nuclear energy received $4.5 billion in research subsidies but renewables a mere $1.5 billion. These numbers completely turn your argument about subsidies upside down, and are publicly available at http://wds.iea.org/WDS/Common/Login/login.aspx.

    I’m sorry Mark, but ignoring the facts about renewables won’t simply make them go away.

    May 19, 2009 | 9:18 pm

  117. lette says:

    May 20, 2009 | 2:01 am

  118. Nadine Galza says:

    Please don’t forget to sign the petition:


    NO TO BNPP!!!

    May 20, 2009 | 11:24 am

  119. akosigundam says:


    Private entities? Oh right, the Cojuangco clan’s buying into the BNPP. And with you as its proponent in Congress… Good Lord, it’s all making sense. Smooth move, slick. Real smooth.

    May 20, 2009 | 12:50 pm

  120. Nadine Galza says:

    @akosigundam – they are buying into Meralco too.

    Read this article ‘…Marcos cronies back’


    and the Meralco purchase


    This has got to stop. Please urge everyone you know to sign the petition. It’s what we individuals can do to convince the powers that be…


    May 20, 2009 | 3:38 pm

  121. Mark Cojuangco says:


    No. They are; the Koreans (Kepco, Doosan and others), the Japanese (tosiba westinghouse group, westinghouse was bought by the Japanese), and others.

    For your info, the “Cojuangco clan”, although having a stake in SMC, is excluding its interests from pursuing a BNPP interest. Precisely, because it is I who is advocating this bill. This is just, although unfair to SMC, “delicadeza”.

    Further, although there are these expressions of interest manifested by these offers from the mentioned entities, the bill explicitly excludes them by seeking to mandate that BNPP be owned by the Filipino (Juan dela Cruz).

    The irony is that in pursuing this mandate, the anti nukes and cynics say; that the requested authority to invest up to 1B US$, is foisting an expense on the Filipino people.

    They refuse to discern the difference between; an “investment” and an “expense”.

    Further, SMC investment into Meralco is today a minority position with management remaining with the Lopezes and/or PLDT. Meralco further, being into distribution and not into generation.

    Lastly, this has been my advocacy since I entered public service in 2001 and prior to that, as a private citizen. As stated earlier, the record will bear this out.

    This was way long before it was just, even a thought by SMC to expand its interests outside of food and beverage.

    SMC is free to invest in other power generating technologies, including coal, which it will probably do, as will many other Filipino and foreign companies, because the market demand for power needs to be filled.

    The question is; under what terms will this occur? “kapit sa patalim” terms which will maximize profitability for the private power co. investors or; allow once again (Juan dela Cruz’s) entry into the power industry so that he will benefit from the low nuke generating costs. It will also allow the setting of new power price “benchmarks” which will limit the uncontrolled profit taking in this sector.

    Of course, this is unless the people, through the government, step in. And, this will only be possible through a technology which provides a clear advantage in terms of cost, which justifies it all in the first place.

    The power industry is one of the “crown jewels” of any economy. It is, a sure thing. Why have we Filipinos allowed the “store”, to be given away. To foreigners at that.

    If you open your cynical eyes even a little bit, you may see. That my position is actually even belligerent towards the profit interests of SMC (and by extension I suppose the “cojuangco clan”, as you have put it), and have put an end to the options of SMC as far as BNPP is concerned.

    Also, my position gives a clear alternative to coal. Something that the other techs will be unable to prevent in any meaningfull magnitude.

    I do not have any management say in SMC. I am not involved in it in the least.

    My proposal is timely.

    Your conclusions are therefore; unfounded, untrue and malicious.

    May 20, 2009 | 9:14 pm

  122. Mark Cojuangco says:

    Market Manila,

    I came to know about your blog, from my daughter. She graduated engineering a year ago, and is working at her first job in the US. Whenever she feels that she needs Filipino inspired “comfort food”, she tells me that your site is the first one that she goes to for ideas. As for example the arrozcaldo that she prepared that day.

    I don’t know when this discussion will be ended, and so before I lose the chance to do so;

    Thank you for the oppurtunity to be able to engage so many at a truly important crossroads in our country’s history.

    Whether I win or lose in the House, my posts here in this lively discussion have become a record of my advocacy as an alternative position to many. Of, what could have been, and as of this time, could still be.

    Win or lose, the words we’ve exchanged here are now part of a written history from which we will be gauged against in the not so distant future.

    At the outset, I hesitated as to whether to join the discussion. Later concluding, that it would not have done you and myself justice for me not to engage, and allow my position and reasoning to be known, contested and defended.

    As, the direction which we choose to take and hence, the decisions which we need to be make as a country, regarding energy, are societal ones.

    I trust, that at least in some small way, I have been able to illuminate the facts and issues about the nuclear option for energy.

    Win or lose, let me assure you that I will continue to champion nuclear power for the Philippines because I believe that it will be a major factor in deciding who will be the future haves and have nots of this world.

    I will continue to do this in spite of the opposition, until some future development proves to me that the other alternatives (and I am positive that there will be many more including the ones in development today) have arrived, or, that I am wrong.

    As I fade away from this site, I commit to answer the posts of the following;

    ben sovacool, chrisb, Mark dia, jason, jun b, Nadine, Mallory, Tessa, Market Manila and a few others.

    There is a saying; “Ang tao, hangang di nauuntog, di matututo.” This saying is valid for all sides to this argument, and its perception depends on your point of view.

    I have proposed that indeed, nauntog na tayo when we “mothballed” BNPP as shown by the success of those who have stuck with the program. Nauntog na tayo, with the lessons learned from Three Mile, and Chernobyl, and the subsequent maturation and good record of the industry.

    I therefore leave you with;

    “Be carefull of what you wish for, you just might get it”

    As I leave you to your Lechon and other good stuff, please;

    Put your emotions aside. Think it over well.

    Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!!

    Sa muli, maraming salamat po.

    May 20, 2009 | 11:11 pm

  123. akosigundam says:

    Talk to the hand, Mark.

    May 20, 2009 | 11:19 pm

  124. Mark Cojuangco says:

    Oh, and also; Amalie Conchelle H. Obusan, spidergrrl, and glenda

    May 20, 2009 | 11:26 pm

  125. Mark Cojuangco says:


    “I am not sure where Mark Cojuangco heard about this Chinese masterplan, but that is just absolute nonsense”

    Tessa, please check this out;

    Sparton Signs Milestone Agreement for Design and Construction of Coal Ash Uranium Recovery Plants in PRC
    On Friday November 14, 2008, 9:48 am EST

    You can find the full story at; http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Sparton-Signs-Milestone-ccn-13572550.html?.v=1

    May 21, 2009 | 8:57 am

  126. James says:


    While I disagree vehemently with your position, I thank you for taking the time to come here and discuss the issue. Open discussion is the basis of a good democracy and it is good to see it here.


    May 21, 2009 | 9:44 am

  127. Nadine Galza says:

    I think politicians often forget that they are public servants eh?



    Sign the petition of Greenpeace here –

    May 21, 2009 | 12:28 pm

  128. chrisb says:

    I second James’ last comment. Debate is essential in a democracy and I respect the congressman’s willingness to engage critics and defend his position in a public forum like this.

    May 21, 2009 | 7:27 pm

  129. Mark Cojuangco says:

    The irate scientist you mention ended up throwing a tantrum at his institute because several of the Phds there disagree with his views.

    In fact, it was his students, Phds in their own right, who pointed out the study to me as the source of the information and as reference. That I cited the report as the source is no sin. I have never claimed that he supports nuke power. In fact, I have gone out of my way to make clear that he is against nuke power. The fact is, the report was quoted properly, nothing was added or deleted.

    When asked, the scientist admitted to being; “anti nuclear per se”, meaning, that he would be against the most modern nuclear plant in any location on earth.

    What this means is that no amount of evidence, can change his mind. From what I understand, this is not the scientific method. The attitude and actions imply that all the other scientists who find nuclear power safe, based on the evidence, are wrong. This can not be so. One man does not overule all.

    I therefore conclude that he can and could not be impartial in his views about BNPP.

    The scientist further went on to recommend to an audience in Baguio, that one way to reduce GHG emissions would be for farmers to stop using hand tractors and instead use Carabaos, and other similar recommendations.

    So much for food production.

    May 21, 2009 | 8:19 pm

  130. Mark Cojuangco says:


    To clarify;

    I was the one who asked him if he was anti nuke per se. To which he replied “yes”.

    As a follow up, I was also the one who asked him, Did he therefore mean that he would be against the newest, most modern nuclear plant being located in the most geologically stable spot on earth. To which he again replied “yes”, before going on.

    I am just trying to clarify that I am not just assuming he is “anti nuke per se”.

    May 21, 2009 | 8:42 pm

  131. Mark Cojuangco says:

    bluegirl, Elmo, Dee, James, chrisb, others

    this is the link of Kori II nuclear power plant


    This is a picture of KORI II, BNPPs sister plant in Korea. It is running and has accumulated several awards for reliability, bettering even many plants in the US. KORI II and KORI I (the plant on the right) were Korea’s first 2 NPPs, both were built 100% by Westinghouse(like BNPP). KORI I about 5 years prior to BNPP and KORI II at about the same time. KORII, ran in 1983, while we were upgrading to fulfill the Puno Commission mandate (the Koreans decided that the plant was safe enough). The next 2 plants on the left KORI III and IV, were a progression wherein Korea took a percentage ( I think 50%) of the equipment to be locally fabricated. Shortly after, Korea started manufacturing plants on its own.

    KORI II recovered 100% of its 1.05 B US$ cost 7 years after first operations in 1983. Similar to BNPP, KORI II started out at 550 M US$. During that era of anti nuke protests and the subsequent maturation of the industry, costs escalated to 1.05B US$ by 1983. Today, Korea’s new nuke plants are delivered on schedule and on budget.

    The KORI series of plants are located outside of Busan City

    this is the link of Yonggwang nuclear power plant….


    This picture shows 6 KSNPs type (Korea standard Nuclear Plant 1,000 MW each) which are larger but the same tech as BNPP as they are also PWRs. These plants are 100% Korean built. They were natural developments from the first KORIs, KORI II being a sister plant to BNPP.

    Two other nuclear sites in Korea are;
    Wolsung presently with 4 plants and; Ulchin presently with 6 plants.

    Korea currently has 20 running NPPs. 40% of their power comes from this. It is their cheapest source of power today. Cheaper than their hydro. About 5 UScents / kWh selling price

    They will have 4 more 1,000 MW running by end 2010 – 2011, and 4 more 1,400 MW running by 2014 – 2015, for a total of 28 units.

    And for the medium term, they have 10 more on order, large 1,400 MW units, for a total of 38 units.

    More or less, kasabay lang natin sila, in 1983. We are 90 million, they number 48 million.

    May 21, 2009 | 8:56 pm

  132. Jun b says:

    Great discussions indeed and applaud the congressman Mark on his willingness to engage in this blog and using the technology to reach the mass. Although I still oppose any nuclear plant (new or old) in the philippines or any part in the world but I am sure that the filipino people and the goverment will find a way to solve the issue on power shortage. I’m not a hardcore against nuclear power generation but this blog has given me a way to express my view with about 75% of the respondent to this blog believe that going natural either on food or power is the way to revive our mother earth from extinction.

    May 21, 2009 | 10:01 pm

  133. Mark Cojuangco says:

    Nadine Galza
    I respect your opinion and your choice of not wanting an NPP.

    But, what does my family’s business have to do with it?

    This is an advocacy for me. I have put a lot of time and effort into this because I believe that it is of fundamental importance to the economic viability and material future of my direct constituents and that of the whole country.

    Electricity, its availability, reliability, its production cost, its price, and hence; its per capita consumption, are direct indicators of a people’s longevity and quality of life.

    Please know that my constituents, from the 5th District of Pangasinan, have a stake in BNPP which has a minimum direct value of over 500 Million Pesos from us.

    Further, we continue to have a share of the ongoing burden, which already amounts to BILLIONS, and dwarfs the actual value of the monies paid for BNPP. I refer to the collateral losses in; jobs, business, closures, societal oppurtunity and prosperity, as a result of the brownout years and the crisis which they spawned, resulting in the subsequent IPP arrangements and onerous “take or pay” power contracts which burden us to this day.

    That a looming crisis in 2012 which threatens a repeat of the above on a larger scale is of great concern to us.

    In the Philippines, there are 208 Congressional Districts, each of them, with the same stake in the outcome and disposition of BNPP. This can not be denied. Our collective losses, are therefore, in the hundreds of Billions if not Trillion.

    I agree with you, that it is time to focus on solutions instead of taking risks.

    Therefore, our disagreement is only in defining what is “focus” and what is “risk”. My many postings present my position on these, for everyone’s rational and not emotional consideration.

    The time available to implement a solution to this issue is fast running out.

    If you will look around and open your eyes a bit more, you may see how we have been left behind. Please observe these pictures of KORI II in Korea, and also, some of the subsequent plants which are the fruits of these first ones.


    Does it not make you envious that we were at par with them in the 80s? We even ordered the exact same plant.

    There are only 48M Koreans, there are 90M of us. Why did we allow this situation to come about? Does it not make you angry? Why could they do it and why can’t we? I have difficulty accepting that we can’t.

    We congressmen are often accused of being “do nothings”. In this case, I’m proud to say that we are being pro-active. The BNPP bill and the present consensus to it did not happen as a “spur of the moment”. It was the product of a long deliberative process which started way before I filed the bill in June of 2008. I have been pushing nuclear since I came to office in 2001. The record will bear me out on this.

    In any case, this is my last term as Rep. I can not run again having served 3 consecutive terms. Whatever happens, I will be able to sleep well at night, knowing that I tried to do what I could.

    Maybe 20 years from now, they will still be talking about whether to run BNPP? It will be too late. History will see the tragedy of that situation because by then, nuclear power will be the mainstream energy source. We will again, be at the end of the line and, we will have no one to blame but ourselves.

    May 22, 2009 | 12:08 am

  134. Mark Cojuangco says:


    I never claim to be an environmentalist. I just want to keep greenpeace and like minded groups “honest”.

    I did not say NRC was involved in the construction of BNPP. We had formerly the PAEC, and then after the PNRI. These institutions have a long history.

    What I did say was that NRC supervises all fabrication activities of parts and equipment for nuke plants in the US. And that the manufacture of the equipment of BNPP was done under this regulatory environment.

    To insinuate that because of corruption, the delivered equipment is somehow substandard, is to insinuate that these processes in the US were also corrupted. I find that to be very much of a stretch, considering the rigid documentary requirment of the US nuclear industry. And also, being that at the time BNPP was being built, there were many US servicemen living near the BNPP plant site.

    I can not believe that a US company, Westinghouse would knowingly put American servicemen in jeopardy because of substandard parts and equipment.

    I think that I have addressed the other issues in the other posts.
    grid efficiency is not linear. Incremental capacity often is handled with less incremental losses because the fixed losses are already covered. So the added capacity may actually increase system efficiency.

    Maybe thats why grid efficiencies in developed countries are higher because power densities are also higher. If true, this would contradict your assertions. You need to check this. Also, you need to consider scale. scale increases efficiencies. Again, this is not favourable to your arguments.

    I have no argument with you off grid. These are the proper niches for the renewables, where they excel. Where intermittent power is better than no power at all. Where the demand is too small for commercial plants, or for intensive investment in a grid infrastructure.

    The carbon subsidy levels you mention are still substantive. They do give a leg up to the renewables. Unfortunately, they also camouflage its weaknesses and they may not be sustainable or reliable as they depend on the political will of the donor countries.

    A world wide carbon tax on the other hand, is a different matter. It would give nuclear, a very clear advantage.

    No. Ben Sovacool talks about research subsidies. I am talking operational subsidies. The many deficiencies in the quality of wind power have not been given a true cost. They have been given legislative band aids.

    You never did answer if you are Dutch?

    May 22, 2009 | 12:55 am

  135. tercer says:

    Since this is a food blog, I will use a simple food related analogy; Surely any kitchen would be soiled when fixing a meal for 90 million starving folks, and cleanup would be a bitch.

    Menu choice 1: tuyo and rice – $$cost feeds 90 million
    Menu choice 2: steak and eggs – same $$cost feeds 30 million

    Choosing the second would engender even more corruption and political instability as who amongst us would we trust to select 30m from the 90m, and inversely condemn 60 million to remain in hunger.

    Mr. Cojuangco, I believe you present a good argument in this blog. The Philippines has very limited financial resources and we cannot even begin to compare to other countries mentioned in this thread. So we surely must carefully consider the best and even more importantly the most timely return on our investment. After all, even a kingly feast is unappetizing to a man dead of starvation.

    Thank you for engaging in this forum and I wish you success in your endeavor.

    May 22, 2009 | 2:47 am

  136. Mark Cojuangco says:

    For those of you that live in California, this may be of interest; http://skirsch.com/politics/globalwarming/ifr.htm

    It will play a part in the future of nuke waste disposal.

    Also, something about nuke myths;

    May 23, 2009 | 12:45 am

  137. Osay says:

    We actually spent childhood summers there at the BNPP / Westinghouse community area and took weekend beach trips at the site itself. Right before it was mothballed, the sea was teeming with fish and life. The whole plant looks alienish against a very lush rural landscape. Im still against the whole thing, people need to learn from past lessons. And there are other ways, like reconstructing the existing power system and usage. Thank you for this wonderful informative thread. Kudos to you Market Manila.

    May 23, 2009 | 9:47 am

  138. Mark Cojuangco says:


    To answer the last part of your post first.

    Not juvenile, but real.

    It is juvenile to lose one’s objectivity and become emotional in making choices.

    It is greenpeace that has allowed dirty technologies to continue. In the Philippines alone, despite their protests, they have left us with no options and therefore they have forced the construction of many Coal plants since the 80s, spewing out Hundreds of Millions if not A BILLION or so MT of CO2 and who knows what, since then. Having been shouting “global warming”, they have chosen this over a tech which would have emitted only a few MT for the equivalent power produced. Hypocritical if you ask me.

    Having failed in their mother countries, these rejects are here to keep us from developing. Patrick Moore Phd., one of their founders has said; “these people are almost anti-human, they are anti development”. He left Greenpeace because he could not stomach the arrogance of this people in misleading others to suit their narrow ends. Please don’t allow yourselves to be manipulated by these “bayaran ng dayuhan” foreign agents.
    “The true bottom line of all this, Mr. Congressman, is not the row of numbers preceded by a peso sign at the end of your report.”
    The report is not to me. It is to the people.

    It is not a peso sign, it is a dollar sign.

    And that dollar sign represents the foreign exchange (hard currency) we need to spend to generate each kWH that we use.

    Being that according to my UAAP economics professor; hard currecy or foreign exchange (katas ofw), is and always has been the Philippines’ scarcest resource. We would do well not to squander it specially on items of consumption, such as power. ie; we should always aim to get the most “bang for our buck” or the most kwhs/ dollar spent. Nuclear, specially BNPP, represents this. Because, BNPP represents a large “sunk” cost. Paid for, and yet not being used.

    Our foreign exchange should be reserved for capital spending, ie; our infrastructure development.

    If the renewables cost of generating “baseload quality” energy, only depended on generating cost, then the cost would be close to ZERO (0) and, we would not be having this discussion because I would be on your side.

    Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite work that way. A big part of the cost of each kWh is the totality of the relatively much larger capital cost for a given “BASELOAD” capacity, to put up the renewable facilities and the attendant financial costs.

    Also, a matter of consideration is how up front these costs are. For renewables as they exist today, its all up front. ie; the cost of the power delivered for the life of the project is paid for almost all at the begining.

    Therefore, without massive subsidies per kWh (meaning higher prices or more taxes); these sources would not be viable. They are viable in the rich countries because they have the means to pay for these subsidies.
    As an aside;
    May I appeal and suggest to the rich countries; do not set us up to fail. If you give CDMs, make sure you also give the subsidies for upgrades to the grid, and subsidies for the standby or storage technologies needed to make this power baseload.

    Filipinos; Please do not get sucked in, specially by greenpeace their foreign agents, till this happens. Otherwise, the cost to put up these things will be for our account.
    Also, to accommodate the fact that as of today, there is no way to store, in a practical and cost effective way, the intermittent power from renewable, we, congress, have mandated laws such as the “renewable energy act” which mandates “priority dispatch”.

    This in effect means; when the wind is blowing, every other source of power must turn down or shut down, to accommodate the wind.

    This is fine, up to a point. But, this also drives up the price of these conventional sources as they are forced to operate more inefficiently.

    This is also where the “baseload reserve capacity” comes in. Absent this, and the grid will have no capacity to absorb the fluctuations of the “intermittent” renewable source. This will lead to system tripping (brownouts). Emotions will not erase this engineering and physical fact.

    It is estimated that a relatively efficient grid, such as that in the US, has the capacity to absorb up to about 15% of this kind of supply, at the limit (meaning max). Also contributing to this absorptive capacity, is the fact that the US is spread over several time zones, further spreading the peaks of demand and supply. The US is also geographically large. Meaning, there is more chance that there is some wind blowing at least somewhere.

    Unfortunately, our grid in the Philippines is no where near as developed as in the US, and we are in only one time zone. We are also not as geagraphically large. Further, our reserve baseload capacity is also not as robust. This all means a much reduced capacity to absorb the intermittencies of renewable than the 15% max expected in the US.

    Finally, beware of stated capacities for renewable. They are nameplate capacities. They do not account for renewables low utilization rate. ie; for wind it is between 20% to 40 % depending on location. Use the lower one for the Philippines. Meaning divide by 4.
    “German utility firm E.On recently cited a study from the Deutsche-Energie Agentur. The report was sponsored by the German government and all sides of the industry. Among bombshells contained inside, the study suggests that while wind power capacity will reach 48 GW by 2020 in Germany, the source is so intermittent and unreliable that it is equivalent to only 2 GW of stable fossil fuel capacity.” (by Eben Esterhuizen, the panelist)
    Nuclear power is the safest power available as proven by its track record.

    The bigger harm and danger is the poverty caused by inefficiency. Some manifestations of which are; indegency, illiteracy, homelessness, sickness, hunger, misery, death. Pictures of which when taken collectively, are worse than any that you could produce from Chernobyl.

    Cancer (desease) clusters are known to be observed in all parts of the world, even in places that are completely nuke free. That they are sometimes near nuclear plant locations, are for the same reasons that they are sometimes near churches, or sports centers, or others. Scientists suspect that they may be caused by viruses, as they are found in populated areas that are open to immigration.

    Your other points have been addressesd in previous posts.

    May 23, 2009 | 4:39 pm

  139. Mark Cojuangco says:


    In addition to the answer I gave you on “what does chernobyl teach us”

    Chernobyl had a steam explosion, which tore off the reactor building roof (no containment structure). the overheated graphite which was thrown up and outside the building was burning.

    It taught us that the largest harm done was by the airborne “micronized” particles of radioactive material that was scattered, as it was incorporated into the smoke from the graphite fire and blown by the wind.

    Three Mile, which did not have any graphite, in contrast, did not have this fire.

    Instead, there was a melt down of the fuel assemblies inside the reactor. In so doing, the melting fuel assemblies incorporated other melting material from the reactor structures such as stainless steel, concrete and others, to form a muck which diluted the fuel to a concentration which caused the mass to become sub critical (nuclear reaction stopped). This molten muck also served to incorporate the radioactive material and prevent it from spreading. It sat at the bottom of the reactor vessel.

    Since BNPP is PWR tech, with Three Mile safety mods mandated by NRC, if it were to happen at all, the worst case scenario would be a Three Mile scenario. BNPP could not physically do a Chernobyl.

    Chernobyl is considered the worst nuclear catastrophe that could ever happen. In spite of that, and its grave consequences, consider that Chernobyl and the 60 deaths which have occured still pale to the non nuke disasters which have occured throughout the world.
    For example, Bhopal Chemical India. 16,000 died, many within a day, and many died with lingering deaths. Also tragedy like; Stampedes, aviation, explosions, coal mining, sporting events, maritime, floods, train, building collapse, others. Which, when compared, to Chernobyl, have been far worst.
    Please see; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_accidents_and_disasters_by_death_toll#Industrial_accidents
    I included this to present proportional reference to the Chernobyl pics as posted and presented by toping in the newer post of this blog which I will no longer join.
    I would further say that I could also gather shocking pictures, which I won’t do anymore, of equally horrid and shocking circumstances with children; caused by poverty, malnutrition, disease clusters, multiple sclerosis, cancer tumors, leukemia, elephantiasis, violence, conflict and others which would rival if not be more shocking than those presented. All these from non nuclear Metro Manila. Many caused by existing living conditions and the absense of proper care, sanitation, nutrition, and just plain natural mutations.
    The social tragedies that these pictures could represent will only multiply if we can not uplift the people from poverty. These tragedies are real, as opposed to the imagined catastrophe of a chernobyl in a Philippine setting which as I have explained, can never happen. See my explanation above.
    Statistically, the WHO has concluded, that outside of those immediately in the accident zone, the disease rates today are similar if not identical to those completely outside the zone.

    May 23, 2009 | 5:22 pm

  140. Mark Cojuangco says:

    jason reyes

    I think cheap power has everything to do with fighting poverty, increasing food production and better health because, cheap power means more and higher paying jobs, or at least because of the looming crisis, protecting the jobs that we already have. Don’t you?

    Di ko naman pinapasa lahat, but;

    Hasn’t it been we (the people) who have been electing all the leaders?

    Maybe we keep electing psychophants who are good at saying what we want to hear? And populists, who give us what is politically expedient regardless of the consequences?

    Doing these things, does it make us “leadable to success”?

    Other countries even the rich ones have their share of scandals. It is not to be accepted, but it is part of life. It is also to be continuously fought.

    Should it be a reason to wallow in self pity? It gets you nowhere, only into deeper depression, and so unproductive.

    To be prosperous as a people is not easy. If it were, the whole world would be prosperous. Many right (and difficult) choices have to be made.

    You said;
    “Di naman siguro sir. We don’t succeed because our leaders simply refuse to lead us to success.”

    I say;
    I think, of all things, leaders want to lead to success. I think it was what drove many of them to seek office in the first place.

    I think that at best, they can only be catalysts. The success can only come from within the people.

    Our culture is so gentle that we even make excuses for people that have sold their vote. “Kawawa kasi, mahirap lang sila.” Maybe this must change.

    You said;
    “As far as being defeatist, it probably is true but it’s not without reason.”

    I say;
    You know, I don’t think other peoples will pity us, with this attitude. They will only laugh at us. I pray we can do better than this.

    I wish that I could make you feel better.

    My last post will be a short peace on cynicism. Please check it out.

    May 23, 2009 | 6:02 pm

  141. Mark Cojuangco says:

    “Would it be more important to think about saving all this rather than building one that has a potential to further damage no matter how small the possibilty is.”

    I say;
    “no matter how small the possibility is”, is just it, is just the point.

    My post for Jason Reyes and, my 2nd to the last and my last posts for chrisb answer this.

    The worst that can happen to BNPP, although today virtually impossible, is like what happened at Three Mile Island. A Chernobyl can not happen at BNPP, for reasons already explained in the above stated posts.

    As I said, the fear does not fit the reality. The fear is out of proportion to reality.

    Please read this, it may help you to understand
    p. 29 of the report or, p. 33 of the pdf entitled; “A Layperson’s View”

    Also; you may wish to read; “Power to Save the World, The truth about Nuclear Energy” by ; Gwyneth Cravens. Specially chapter 7, page 135 and, chapter 16, page 280

    May 23, 2009 | 6:20 pm

  142. Mark Cojuangco says:

    ben sovacool

    I have looked at the study from the link which you provided.

    Talk about “cherry picking”. “Cherry Picking” is the basis of your study !!!

    You have eliminated 84 studies from consideration and you have retained 19 studies. I find this to be disturbing. Sounds a lot like “cherry picking”.

    Please see this study which is what the British Parliament has used:


    Is this document a lie?

    It has nuclear lowest and equal to wind. But even this study does not include the costs to make wind “baseload”, which is the whole crux of the matter.

    Other reasons for concern;

    You have used 30 to 40 year lifetimes for nuclear plants. This, when the US has already granted 20 year extentions to over 55 of their 104 unit fleet of nuclear plants, and the expected life of new models to be even longer. This one change will reduce the lifecycle footprint estimate by a very substantial amount.

    You have large carbon figures for nuke “operations” when in fact most often, nukes use power from other nukes. This betrays some bias in your outlook towards nukes and the impartiality of your study. .

    With a freshly minted Phd., it seems that you are trying to make a career out of being an anti nuke, as evidenced by the consistent anti nuke slant which you have taken in every fora which you have participated in.

    Please see; http://nucleargreen.blogspot.com/2008/05/sovacool-strikes-again.html

    May 23, 2009 | 7:14 pm

  143. Mark Cojuangco says:

    ben sovacool

    Regarding your accusation;

    ” [Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes once said that “It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suite theories, instead of theories to suit facts.” That sounds exactly like what you are doing.] ”

    Did you take into account that BNPPs carbon footprint for its construction and front end are already “sunk”?

    Did you consider that the Philippines power grid is not of the same quality as the US and Euro grids before concluding the same results are to be expected in the Philippines?

    What about our reserve baseload capacity in comparison to that available in US, EURO?

    Are you stating that all your claims for wind are as true in the Philippine context?

    Did you consider the quality of wind compared to the countries you mentioned? NREL data show similar conditions in mountain ridges? Might not these remote locations impose additional costs in the development of wind power in the country?

    Will the rainy season not affect or skew construction effeciencies as compared to US, EURO? The lack of road infra and access to remote sites for the massive parts required?

    Are you saying that the none baseload quality of wind and solar is not important to consider? Are you saying that the cost to make them so should not be included in the figuring?

    What about the efficiency penalty imposed on other power sources due to “priority dispatch”? Is this not to be considered?

    Be carefull, you may not be practicing what you preach.

    You know, I’ve been told that when a scientist begins showing bias, he ceases to be a scientist.

    May 23, 2009 | 7:19 pm

  144. Mark Cojuangco says:

    ben sovacool

    You said;

    “I’m sorry Mark, but ignoring the facts about renewables won’t simply make them go away.”

    I say;

    Why would I want them to go away?

    I do want them to fulfill their promise. And, as soon as possible. So that we can all, be for them.

    You solve the; investment issues, baseload quality issues and storage costs and I’ll drop all of this. How long do you think will it take? 10, 20 years? Longer?

    I know you’re a Phd. I don’t have that, but I’ve gone through hard knocks.

    Many Phds don’t agree with you.

    May 23, 2009 | 7:24 pm

  145. Mark Cojuangco says:

    Benjamin K Sovacool

    Your talking research. I’m talking actual subsidies on generated power. Nuclear has none. The research values are peanuts compared to these. Add to that; priority dispatch policies favoring renewables and, CDMs. Its not a level playing field. Its in favor of renewable and they are barely surviving. And, its a field that can suddenly change on the whim of the subsidy granting countries.

    Consider as I previously quoted;

    “German utility firm E.On recently cited a study from the Deutsche-Energie Agentur. The report was sponsored by the German government and all sides of the industry. Among bombshells contained inside, the study suggests that while wind power capacity will reach 48 GW by 2020 in Germany, the source is so intermittent and unreliable that it is equivalent to only 2 GW of stable fossil fuel capacity.” (by Eben Esterhuizen, the panelist)

    For your info Ben, the Philippines is not as well located as Germany as far as wind resources are concerned.

    Also, there is a big difference between “nameplate capacity”, “installed capacity” and capacity utilization.

    “Homes and businesses earn a government-guaranteed price of as much as 47 euro cents ($0.74) for each kilowatt-hour of solar power they generate” (bloomberg, van loon)

    The Bloomberg quote was corrected by James; Its US cents 63 or Pesos 26/ kWh.

    This is the kind of subsidy we can not afford. The picture in other European countries is similar.

    I am for renewable. But, in the right context, niche, application. They are not “baseload capable”.

    Re; carbon footprints. Since you are not satisfied with Verzola’s website (He’s anti nuke), please try this one; http://www.parliament.uk/documents/upload/postpn268.pdf

    Factor in winds; 25 – 30% utilization factor as compared to nukes 90+% at this time. The lower figure for the Philippines.

    And, to make them baseload capable, is a whole other ballgame.

    May 23, 2009 | 7:31 pm

  146. Mark Cojuangco says:

    Mark Dia
    I typed this response shortly after your post but misplaced it. I’m sorry for the late reply.
    Sorry Mark (Dia), its never free.

    Thank you, FINALLY, an anti nuke who acknowledges nuclear’s ability to reduce carbon emmissions, combat global warming and climate change.

    Thank you for the 3.5% reduction in worldwide GHG emmissions that you credit to nuclear power. I don’t know how accurate this figure is, and I am not accepting it at face value. However;

    You claim that “energy efficiency” alone will account for a 50% reduction in GHG. What is the basis for this? What will cause it? How will it come about? How long will it take? Where will it come from?

    I admire how “Earth Hour” has managed to raise public awareness and appreciation for energy and environment issues.

    But, I would like to point out that during the last “Earth Hour”, with all the promotion, celebration and exhortation, 600+ MW was saved for one hour in the whole country. Less if for Luzon only but, let’s just say 600 MW for Luzon (tawad na para sa inyo) for arguments sake. For an hour, that’s 600 MWH.

    If you can accomplish an “Earth Hour”, 24 hrs a day, for 300 days a year, you would have eliminated the need for a 600 MW power plant in Luzon. Do you think you can accomplish this?

    The projected shortfall by 2012 for Luzon is 3,000 MW. Do you think 5 x “Earth Hour” x 24hrs a day x 300 days a year is achievable by 2012? 2013? 2014? or even 2015?

    I wish you the best in your pro conservation efforts.

    I hope that it will manage to avert the looming crisis, and the need for added capacity. Don’t forget, our population and economy are growing.

    I am with you in that efficiency needs to be continuously pursued, but in doing so, we can not put growth on hold. Since our population is growing, and since we demand higher living standards, we need to grow the supply just to keep from sliding backward on a per capita basis.

    In the meantime, in 2012 and beyond, are we supposed to suffer a default economic crisis which will be triggered by a lack of power? Its attendant hardships and suffering? Why? And for what? So that greenpeace can try out their utopic view of never never land?

    What if it doesn’t pan out?

    Why don’t they try it out in the US where Greenpeace is based. Where there are far more NPPs and they have plans to double the fleet in the short to medium term.

    They also consume about 25x (times) more electricity per capita than we do and so, if Greenpeace is successful, they will still be consuming 12.5x more than us per capita.

    Do greenpeace really want our people to lessen our collective consumption more? Aren’t we poor enough? Do greenpeace want them to be at 50:1 instead of 25:1?

    May 23, 2009 | 7:38 pm

  147. Mark Cojuangco says:

    Some views about Greenpeace

    “Greenpeace began life as a citizens’ group devoted to fighting pollution and the whaling industry, but it’s now a powerful de-industrialisation lobby. Its hostility to progress snags it well over $200m income a year. If a scientific breakthrough promises a better of quality of life, then the organisation is probably against it.

    Two of Greenpeace’s co-founders, Patrick Moore and Paul Watson long since departed: Watson to run his own anti-whaling group and Moore criticising its anti-human, anti-development agenda. “By the mid-1980s, the environmental movement had abandoned science and logic in favor of emotion and sensationalism,” Moore lamented.

    Fusion seems to exemplify what Moore means: an anti-modernity superstition. Greenpeace doesn’t understand what fusion is, but whatever it is it will be scary, it will be bad, and it must be stopped. ®”
    the register UK

    For the whole article: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/10/22/fusion_greenpeace_no/

    May 23, 2009 | 8:13 pm

  148. Mark Cojuangco says:

    Mark Dia (continuation 1)

    The building of nuclear plants in France is a national enterprise. If the plants have been fully depreciated (investment returned) and, have made their lifetimes worth of projected profit, then, I can understand the French position in wanting to boost their nuclear plant manufacturing industry and score PR points to boot. It has little to do with safety. It doesn’t mean that the plant is bad.

    You know, I remember reading this and it seems that you may be mistaken. The French are extending their old plants’ licences. I quote:

    “Licence renewal: The 900 MWe reactors all had their lifetimes extended by ten years in 2002, after their second 10-yearly review. Most started up late 1970s to early 1980s, and they are reviewed together in a process that takes four months at each unit. A review of the 1300 MWe class followed and in October 2006 the regulatory authority cleared all 20 units for an extra ten years’ operation conditional upon minor modifications at their 20-year outages over 2005-14. The 3rd ten-year inspections of the 900 MWe series begin in 2009 and run to 2020. The 3rd ten year inspections of the 1300 MWe series run from 2015 to 2024.”

    You can check for yourself at: http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf40.html

    France seems also to be kind of like a victim of its own success. It exports a lot of electric power, which may be lowering the prices of power in Europe. Also, Europe has its share of nukes in other countries aside from France.

    Besides, why would France want to lower its power price? It is extra revenue and profit for the French State, it is still the lowest price around and, lowering the price would be a contradiction of what you said you want to achieve; the conservation of electricity. Surely you will agree, a lower price would promote its usage and wastage. For a rich country like France, I suppose that their societal needs are best served by power rates that are competitive but not overly cheap as to promote wastage.

    Wouldn’t a more appropriate comparison be; French power price vs Philippine power price? EUR 4.3 c/kWh or US 5.8 c/kWh (incl. profit and finance charges) vs US 10.0 c/kWh Napocor rates. So, aren’t we conserving enough because our prices are much higher?

    By the way, the French generate revenues of about 3+ Billion EURO/ year from electricity exports to the rest of Europe. They export about 70 billion kwh/ year. This is the power from about 16 BNPPs. This is aside from power for their own use.

    So, do you want a lower or higher, I mean raise price?

    Myself, I want a lower price for Filipinos so that they can use more electricity to help themselves make their lives better. If we had French prices, wouldn’t it be better?

    Check out Cardinal Renato Martino’s comments which in effect criticize Italy’s former anti nuke policies as kind of “hypocritical” (my word) considering it buys a lot of its power from France. (vatican news). See; http://www.christiantoday.com/article/vatican.says.nothing.wrong.with.nuclear.power/12016.htm

    Maybe the Italians saw the light because Italy today has reversed this policy and has just ordered 4 new nuke plants from France. I suppose they are wrong too?
    See; http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/23/world/europe/23nuke.html

    If BNPP ends up being technically the same as its sister plants running reliably today, and is viewed as safe by the regulatory authorities, why should it not be allowed to run? Is Greenpeace the authority on this? Or, are these questions being thrown around as a means to discredit or as a pseudo technical block to a NPP? In the end, does it have really to do with safety? Or with the politics of being anti nuke?

    Greenpeace has been involved in the opposition to practically all nuclear plants built in democratic countries, in one way or another.

    Therefore, all the plants that have been built, all the new license renewals, all the granting of licenses for new plant construction, all the successfull decades of nuclear power history, must mean; that Greenpeace has lost the argument in the democratic processes that led to those conclusions and pro nuke decisions. Are you saying that they and these, are all wrong?

    You claim 21% GHG savings for wind. Again, what basis? References list wind and nuclear about tie for “life cycle carbon footprint”. Of course, it does not include the 20 yr life extensions granted to NPPs, nor does it include the 25 to 30% utilization factor for wind sited in a Phillipines setting. Check out the wind charts. Also, fatigue life of a windmill is 25 yrs. So, might you be in error here? Please see: http://www.parliament.uk/documents/upload/postpn268.pdf

    Think wind is without issues;

    Check out; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7nSB1SdVHqQ and; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HKkTUY2slYQ&feature=related and; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZbMO7ufATBc&feature=related
    maintenance is not so easy, specially in 3rd world countries w/o the adequate access infrastructure for large equipment.

    installing wind on the scale you envision may physically affect the weather in ways no one knows yet how. It may end up to be worse than the problem, global warming.

    If the Philippines were to double its capacity with wind (or replace its existing capacity for example) say 13 GW (13,000 MW), It would need to allocate over 1,500,000 hectares just to site them. It would need to build access roads and power lines over this whole area. Incidentaly, to enable a sense of scale, 1,500,000 Ha. is over 50% of the corn area of the Philippines.

    The poll on this blog site does not reflect the rest of the country. Many, are waking up to the BS which has been thrown at BNPP and nuclear. The poll on this blog site probably reflects demographics, and the circles to which one keeps one’s self and the source of information available.

    It is clear that the nuke industry is more conservative in its claims. It is a pity that you fault them for this.

    As I’ve said; Its the rich countries who have the resources to finally develop renewables into economic viability. Your argument is good, it is valid, but it does not apply to the Batasang Pambansa. It applies to Capitol Hill and, the European Parliament.

    Let us adopt these techs as soon as they are proven. In the mean time, let’s go with what works.

    By the way,

    They are going to open GN Power coal plant in Mariveles Bataan soon. It is 600+ MW. The harm to the environment from this will be real, the harm from BNPP is imagined. What is Greenpeace doing? Where is the proportional response? Is Greenpeace “cherry picking” its protests?

    For that matter, China is inaugurating 1 new coal plant a week. Yes, a week. Where are your protests? Are they in proportion to your anti BNPP protests? Emissions from these affect us.

    I am not an environmentalist like you, but greenpeace is inconsistent. I would like you to be true to what you claim you care for, while keeping in mind that people are part of this world too.

    See; http://www.newsweek.com/id/131753

    Everything you are saying now is just a rehash of what Greenpeace preached in the 70s and 80s which was; Conservation and Renewables.

    You said; “Three tracks?”

    It is the thinking and advocacy of Greenpeace and like minded groups which caused coal to flourish in the first place.

    Your conservation advocacy failed miserably in the US and the world.

    This caused the adoption of coal to take up the slack, which the renewables could not prevent because they could not compete economically despite the massive subsidies. Because by then also, you (greenpeace and the like) had already managed to cause the bottling up of nukes, coal’s only serious competition.

    The third track; “no to nuke”, is a repeat of the 70s and 80s error of stopping the only viable non carbon “baseload” alternative to coal. Be carefull, it is not yet illegal to build coal plants worlwide. If you succeed again in bottling up nukes, we may end up with many, even more coal plants.

    History does repeat itself. Fortunately, people are better informed, smarter now.

    Its no wonder that Patrick Moore Phd., one of your founders at Greenpeace, gave up on your group and now firmly supports nuke power as “the” weapon against global warming and climate change and, as the only practical and viable mainstream energy solution for now.
    Check out; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJseefDFMf4

    As I said at the outset; nothing is free.

    The “free” you claim is actually paid to the foreign suppliers in foreign exchange “katas OFW” over time (through debt payment), to amortize the extremely high cost of these investments which are imported. eg: US 1 B for BNPP vs US 7.5 B +++ for wind. (and, this is reflected in the price of the power.)

    As in; Show me a wind farm or solar that can survive without CDMs, or similar subsidies, or “priority dispatch”. Nukes don’t enjoy CDMs, and the like, and yet they thrive. What if the developed countries stopped giving CDMs? (CDMs are; Kyoto Protocol, “Clean Development Mechanism Credits”)

    As stated in my previous post, this is at least 7.5 times the price to rehab BNPP. Add to this the other costs of; roads, land, etc., but most specially;

    The cost of electricity storage and/or standby power which you do not as yet pay for or, have not as yet purchased because, the grid still has adequate reserves to carry your intermittency.

    Use this reserve up and you will quickly discover your folly.

    Renewable sources? Yes, if competitive, by all means.

    Inexhaustible sources? Yes. To me, its just as good. Nuclear with a closed fuel cycle, is such. And, to those who would argue this point, ok, even if the cycle is not closed, with an open cycle, BNPP will get us through 60 years. That’s longer than I have been on this earth. We will have other solutions by then.

    In closing; All the sources you mentioned are ultimately nuclear. From fusion which powers the sun, the wind, the oceans currents, the waves and biomass, to fission which is what heats within the earth. Whether we use them directly or indirectly, God gave us these things and the people who discovered them, unlocked their secrets, and learned how to harness them to serve man. They are not man made, they are an intrinsic part of nature, literally present within each of us. That you curse and condemn them, is to devalue or discount God’s gift.

    Nuclear looks better still.

    May 23, 2009 | 8:20 pm

  149. Mark Cojuangco says:

    Desire for Safety

    People have a powerful desire of freedom from all risk. We all want certainty. For nuclear, we want a 100% guarantee of safety.

    Can a nuclear plant be made risk free? The question really is; how can we reduce the uncertainties to a minimum.

    In my various posts, I have shown how the worst that could happen to BNPP is what happened at Three Mile Island, where no one was killed, no one was injured and no property was damaged. Three Mile Island is the worst nuclear accident in America’s history. It is the US equivalent of Chernobyl. Nothing of the sort has happened since, and that was 30 years ago now.

    I have shown that a Chernobyl can not physically happen to BNPP, just as it did not happen at Three Mile Island.

    I have also shown that even during the height of the Three Mile disaster, it was less radioactive than a Coal plant.

    Please find a disclaimer issued by the US NRC in 2006 which demonstrates that the previous risk assesment methodologies used by the agency were too “conservative” in calculating for safety. BNPP was the subject of these initial analysis methodologies.

    I believe, from the ongoing history of BNPPs sister plants, all the other empirical evidence and other evidence including this NRC disclaimer, that BNPP has been properly designed and built.

    Once validated, rehabilitated, re-tested and recertified, (which HB 6300 seeks to mandate) BNPP will be as fit to operate as its running sister plants, or any plant of its era.

    From the record and the history of its sister plants, BNPP will provide cheap, clean, reliable and safe power for many decades to come.

    NRC disclaimer;

    In 2006 the commission issued an official disclaimer about the now-outdated research of the 1977 and 1991 worst-case analyses:

    “The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has devoted considerable research resources, both in the past and currently, to evaluating accidents and the possible public consequences of severe reactor accidents. The NRC’s most recent studies have confirmed that early research into the topic led to extremely conservative consequence analyses that generate invalid results for attempting to quantify the possible effects of very unlikely severe accidents. In particular, these previous studies did not reflect current plant design, operation, accident management strategies or security enhancements. They often used unnecessarily conservative estimates or assumptions concerning possible damage to the reactor core, the possible radioactive contamination that could be released, and possible failures of the reactor vessel and containment buildings. These previous studies also failed to realistically model the effect of emergency preparedness. The NRC staff is currently pursuing a new, state-of-the-art assessment of possible severe accidents and their consequences.”

    p. 142 Power th Save the World; Gwyneth Cravens

    May 23, 2009 | 9:58 pm

  150. Mark Cojuangco says:

    Check and check mate !

    To the many who have expressed a cynical view about our House of Representatives,

    The cynicism that I encountered was at times overpowering, causing feelings of dismay, hopelessness, helplessness. At times, it became a chore to continue.

    You know, even in the US, profiling is frowned upon. Categorizing people without knowing them oftentimes may be wrong. It is similar to racism, and prejudice. Racism, prejudice, profiling; These are all the same thing in different clothing.

    To be sure, before, I myself may have been guilty of this. But, there came a point in my life where I would begin to “cringe”, as the same jokes about ourselves (Filipinos) were repeated and repeated at different functions and occasions here, but specially abroad.

    At first, I observed that nothing really ever came out of these “self bashing” episodes. Their only function, to pass away the time. Then, I began to notice that some foreigners although polite, would be uncomfortable and would look away, or down. More and more, it became a displeasure to participate in such “self roastings”.

    Though not an expert, I would not be surprised if somehow, this pastime, habit does not have an effect on our psyche. After all, it is an excersice in negativity.

    From the other side of the fence, may I share with you some insights.

    Congress is a cacaphony of competing interests (political, constituential and parochial). It is by no means monolithic. This is how our system is set up. Not by choice, but by the Constitution.

    The voice of 1 congressman, is a voice among 267 (and rising). In this kind of an environment, the signal to noise ratio, for any specific idea, is not good. Please do not be too hard on these people. Consider how frustrated some of them must also be. Instead, consider how the “system” might be changed.

    Although in word, Congress has the “power of the purse”. In reality, this is overridden by the Filipino concept of a re-enacted budget. In the US, while I was in exile there during the mid to late 80s, the US government in a one particular year, came to within hours of completely stopping (shutting down), because of a deadlock between the House and the Presidency. As a result, both sides had to make substantial compromises. Our system and that of the US is not the same.

    Also, in the US, Senators are elected by State. Only one person is elected by the whole country. That is the President. He brings a Vice President of his choice with him into office. This makes the President’s mandate unique and unambiguous.

    In our system, all the Senators have the same mandate as the President. I believe that this may breed “contempt” and erode respect for the Presidency. Further, the President and Vice are elected seperately. This creates mistrust and division.

    As for the political dynamics of the “House” in the Philippines, or any plenary body for that matter, the “prize” is important to the dynamics.

    In our system, a challenge for the leadership (speakership) means just that. If your group wins, you attain the speakership. In a parliamentary system, if your group wins, you attain the government. There is a huge difference between the two “prizes”.

    On the one hand, no one would risk rocking the boat. After all, one’s constituency’s well being, depend on good relations with the incumbent leadership. On the other, if there is as opening, say caused by scandal or poor performance, control of the government is the “prize”, for upsetting the status quo. In this kind of system, a shadow government of the minority, always exists. It not only criticizes, but is always ready to offer alternatives or even itself as an alternative. It has less of a propensity to disrupt for disruption’s sake because at any time, it may have to take over.

    Our system is slow, because of the methods of what some consider to be “check and balance”. It seems, that this has evolved into, “check and check mate”. I believe that as humans, mistakes are inevitable. What is important is to find out quickly if ideas (laws, policies) do work, and if not, to change them or modify them, as soon as possible. It is this process of iteration, that will perfect laws or policy over time. There is no “magic bullet”. It would do us well to study the democratic parliamentary systems of successful democracies, to see if there is anything that we could learn from them.

    I believe that a quicker iterative process as described above would also provide the people with a more “real” feedback mechanism. One wherein the relationship between cause and effect could more readily be related to, observed, and understood.

    Further, in such a system, a good government could last a while, a bad government could be changed more quickly. And, the “prize”, guarantees that sellouts are difficult.

    I am amazed at viewing on BBC, the fast paced debates of the British parliament, as compared to the slow drawn out drawl of ours. I think more of us would be actively engaged in the proceedings if it were more like this.

    A cynical attitude ultimately paints one into a corner, causing paralysis (since no one is to be trusted, and all things are bad). It is paralysis which may be the largest force that keeps us from moving forward.

    I am not saying to stop being revolted at scandals and corruption. These should be always condemned, always fought. But, these things should never stop us from moving forward.

    I suggest; stick to issues, argue the merits or demerits using verifiable facts and the proven evidence. Avoid speculation, conjecture, innuendo and character assasination. Be precise, concise and specific. Above all, have an open heart, mind and some good will, so that you can be fair.

    May 23, 2009 | 10:12 pm

  151. Mark Cojuangco says:

    Amalie Conchelle H. Obusan

    I do not discriminate against renewable.

    I only wish to inform about its true cost, as yet limited performance and incomplete maturity. Renewable has its definite niche where it will out perform conventional sources. Baseload applications are not such.

    I agree with your points; 3, 4, am all for this. 5, am happy for this. 7, am very happy for this.

    I don’t agree with point 1, Why are you comparing the whole world against one country only. 2, This may be due to the economic crisis as large projects are on hold, since the renewables are usually small projects, they have probably continued. 6, Again, 120Billion when spread worldwide represents small projects. I am not surprised that large projects are on hold due to the economic downturn.

    Be informed that although the percentages are high, it is starting from an extremely low base. Meaning, the absolute numbers are still small.

    Also, expect a plateaue in this growth as the absorptive capacity of the various grids are used up. It is only after this happens where we will see the true cost of expanding the capacity further. In the meantime, these, are taking a “free” ride on the backs of conventional energy.

    You said;
    “And please Mr. Cojuangco, don’t be so self-righteous as to say you are opposed to coal-fired power plants. Your family after all is bidding on the Calaca coal plant, one of the dirtiest in the country and which, by the way, has been found to have gross environmental violations.”

    SMC may indeed pursue Calaca (but the violations have not to do with SMC as it is not yet SMC’s).

    I would not be surprised if SMC may even venture into the building of new coal plants. And so will many other foreign and domestic corporations who would want to be involved in power generation. Why? Because there is no other economic alternative. Unless, nuclear becomes an acceptable option.

    I am not being self righteous.

    I am opposed to new coal plants if at all possible. But, only if, there are alternatives which are acceptable to the public and are legal. And, they must be baseload capable and economically viable.

    I am just conveying the facts which are; That at this time, there is no mainstream alternative to coal, for “BASELOAD POWER” other than nuclear. And, if still available for development at an economical basis, then also; Hydro, geothermal (limitations of which I have stated in previous posts).

    You said; “If you are indeed serious in delivering this country from the high cost of electricity, then push for energy efficiency measures and more renewable energy investments.”

    My previous posts clarify why this is not my priority although these should always be pushed for, to the extent that is possible with our limited resources.

    I am filing another bill, now under draft, which seeks to mandate the use of CFL bulbs in the country in place of incandecent. This will save a lot of power and was a measure in the US 2008 energy law.

    In spite of this, even if it is a success, we will still have a shortfall. Nuclear, and BNPP in particular, are the ideal solutions to fill this urgent need.

    The choice is; carbon emissions or nuclear. What will it be?

    May 24, 2009 | 2:20 pm

  152. James says:


    As an American (I moved here two years ago at the age of 40), let me give you a few insights to your previous message about our two cultures:

    First and foremost, I agree with you about self-bashing. Filipinos treat themselves and each other worse than any other culture I have seen in the world. It is sad to watch.

    I have no idea what to suggest to correct this societal woe.

    Regarding being cynical towards politicians, I’m afraid that you will have to remain strong on that issue. I think that disliking one’s political leadership is part of the Human Condition.

    As long as you have more money, more power, or both, people will eye you with suspicion and envy. And, as a politician, you are a very public target. People will forget the good things you do, they’ll remember every bad thing you do, and make up more just to make things “interesting”. That’s life.

    We have the same problem in the United States. After the national embarrassment known as Ken Starr, many people asked “Who would EVER want to run for office given how politicians, even those who might have the public in mind, are treated?”

    That is why, even though I could not disagree with you more about BNPP, I will treat you with common courtesy. You are doing a job that I do not want and would not accept. Countries must have leadership and someone has to do it. I am glad it is not me. I have no stomach for the garbage thrown at the average politician (there are those who deserve ill treatment, and I’m fine when they get what they deserve).

    Moving onto actual policy, I’m glad to see that you will push for CFL bulbs. Not only do incandescent bulbs take more energy, but they release a lot of heat. In a country that is hot enough as it is, this is a waste. Sometimes air conditioners are used to compensate for this waste heat. Even MORE energy used.

    You are correct in that we need a good mainline power source that is available on-demand. I hope you take the opportunity to seriously look into pebble bed reactors. It is a much safer nuclear.

    Good luck,


    May 25, 2009 | 1:09 pm

  153. Ipat says:

    This is very enlightening:


    and from Dr. Jorge Emmanuel, a brownfields expert in the US,
    Former Co-coordinator (with Boone Schirmer and Charito Planas), FFP Campaign Against the BNPP, Former Executive Secretary, Alliance for Philippine Concerns

    From 1980 to 1986, I was the co-coordinator of the campaign against the BNPP in the US. We won in 1986 when President Aquino decided to stop the nuclear plant from operating. Reviving the BNPP will negate our victory and take back all our gains of the 1980s.


    Two reports I wrote in 1982 and 1984 revealed the following:

    1. The BNPP was built on the southwestern flank of Natib volcano. A confidential International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report concluded that eruption of Natib was possible during the lifetime of the reactor.

    2. The BNPP is surrounded by several faults in an area with among the highest frequency of earthquakes in the country. Several studies, including a classified report by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, agreed that Westinghouse’s consultants systematically understated the seismicity of the area. The IAEA report concluded that an earthquake of a magnitude that would exceed the plant’s safety limits was possible.

    3. There are at least 223 unresolved technical problems in the design of the nuclear plant including an inadequate emergency core cooling system.

    4. To be able to export the nuclear technology to the Philippines, Westinghouse “referenced” the design of the BNPP ultimately to a two-loop plant in Puerto Rico, implying that the BNPP meets safety requirements of the US. The Puerto Rico plant was stopped in 1972 because of problems related to seismicity.

    5. To obtain the contract, Westinghouse gave Marcos cronies a “commission” of around $35 million.

    Unfortunately, I lost all my files on BNPP when I lent them to a journalist some years ago. However, since my reports were published:

    a) An international team of nuclear experts reported to the Presidential Commission on the BNPP in 1986 that they found some 4,000 safety defects in the plant.

    b) A more detailed study commissioned by the Philippine Senate was conducted from 1988 to 1990 involving over 50 nuclear experts from the US and Europe. The report has been kept confidential but a technical consultant to the Senate recently reported that the detailed audit found the BNPP unsafe on multiple levels and has called for their release to the public.

    c) A 1992 government-commissioned study by a US-based group concluded that the safety-related defects of the BNPP are so serious and numerous that it would be costly and dangerous to have them repaired.

    Although many safer alternative energy options exist for the country, including converting the BNPP into a gas-fired power plant, news reports indicate that the nuclear industry is lobbying heavily and the bills are being rushed through the congress.


    The substandard nuclear plant was built by a US firm, Westinghouse, supported by various US consulting firms such as Burns & Roe and Ebasco. From the 1950’s to 1970’s, the US Atomic Energy Commission (later the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission) and US Embassy promoted nuclear energy to the Philippines and the BNPP was supposed to be the first of 11 nuclear plants to be builts in the Philippines by US firm.

    A US tax-supported export credit agency, the US Export-Import Bank (Exim), became the primary instrument for the nuclear deal with Westinghouse. It facilitated the link with Westinghouse and provided millions of dollars of loans to a high-risk project that at that time was already known to Exim as an extremely overpriced nuclear plant.

    May 28, 2009 | 7:54 am

  154. Chuck Baclagon says:

    For those of you who signed the petition and are wondering what happened to them kindly look at this page http://www.greenpeace.org.ph/bnpp

    Jun 2, 2009 | 12:41 am

  155. weng says:

    After failing to get the approval of his bill re reviving the nuke plent in Bataan. The greedy conjuanco is now lobbying for the construction of a nuclear plant in Pangasinan near the Lingayen Gulf. Only one board member did not approve of the proposal. Grabe!!!! Sa akin lang marunong ang Diyos.

    Feb 16, 2010 | 4:26 pm

  156. Len says:

    You know what, weng? Bilib na sana ako sa iyo, na sa yo lng marunong ang Dyos, kaso mukhang iba ata intindi mo sa gustong iparating ni Lord sa yo. Bago mo hatulan si Cong. Mark Cojuangco, ilang libong beses mo muna kayang i-research at i-kumpara ang nuclear power plant sa ibang sources of energy, para ma realize mo na, nuclear plant is the safest and tested.

    Ang situation ngayon dito sa Pilipinas, krisis sa kuryente.. Nanjan si Cong. Cojuangco na siyang ngtitiyagang magpaliwanag sa lahat na may solusyon tayo, at matagal na niya itong sinasabi sa atin pero nagbibingi bingian tayo.

    Kelan tayo magigising? Kelan tayo makikinig sa ”totoong solusyon” na igina-guide na sa atin ng Dyos. Hihintayin pa ba natin na lumala ang krisis bago tayo umaksyon at maniwala?

    Mar 4, 2010 | 11:32 pm

  157. Koichi says:

    For those who are still against nuclear power plant, check this update.


    I hope more people get a more open-minded attitude towards this, read and be more educated.

    Philippines need cheap energy and the country needs it right now.

    Jun 17, 2010 | 5:01 pm


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