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.