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No active fault beneath Bataan nuclear plant, says scientist

But UP expert warns plant would end up worse than Fukushima plant if a calamity similar to the 2011 quake-tsunami occurs

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By Philippine News Agency and MB Online

The fault beneath the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant is not active, a geology expert from the University of the Philippines said on Friday, November 25.

Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (Manila Bulletin)

MB FILE – Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (Manila Bulletin)

National Institute of Geological Sciences director Carlo Arcilla said results from about five different tests his team had conducted showed that aside from the fault under the plant being inactive, there has been no “surface manifestation” caused by an active fault under the building.

But Arcilla said while Filipino engineers are well-equipped to maintain and operate the facility, the BNPP would have done worse in a natural disaster similar to Fukushima, Japan’s oldest power plant.

On March 11, 2011, the 9.0-magnitude earthquake that shook northern Japan unleashed a 15-meter tsunami that knocked down the power supply and diesel plants used to cool three of the reactors in the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, leading to a nuclear meltdown.

Some 460 nuclear power plants are operating around the world. Arcilla said any nuclear power plant should be approved by the International Atomic Energy Agency prior to operation to meet safety standards.

President Rodrigo Duterte has sought a study on the 623-megawatt (MW) BNPP in Morong, Bataan, which will serve as the basis for a decision whether or not to commission the plant.

Built by former president Ferdinand Marcos in 1976, the BNPP managed to produce 5 MW of power in an initial test in 1984.

But it has remained idle since 1986 after Marcos’ ouster, largely due to cost overruns of up to $2.3 billion, construction concerns, and nuclear safety fears following the 1979 Three Mile Island incident in the U.S. and the subsequent 1986 Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine.

Concerns were also raised over its proximity to a geological fault line and the then-dormant Mount Pinatubo volcano.

The National Power Corporation has estimated the facility’s maintenance cost at P40 million to P50 million a year.

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  • Yves Boquet

    Is it really safe to say the fault is not active in a country where many earthquakes occur every year and sometimes they are caused by “unknown faults” or “previously presumed inactive faults”

  • What difference does it make? They have typhoons!

  • Renewable energy is the answer for the Philippines! Nuclear power only comes with headaches and regret, along with toxic waste that will mutate your DNA.

    • TimS

      Intermittent renewable energy is the answer for the fossil industry. Batteries/energy storage is prohibitively expensive, so it is fossil fuels that keep lights on when sun is not shinning or wind is not blowing.
      “Natural gas companies love renewables and supports environmentalists efforts to close nuclear power.”
      environmentalists = pro-fossil fuel activists
      death/TWh: coal 161.00, oil 36.00, solar 0.44 , wind 0.15, hydro 0.10, nuclear 0.04

  • TimS

    The attempt to link earthquakes with nuclear incidents is pathetic. In Fukushima, no one has been killed or sickened by the radiation, the tsunami is that was the real killer, other deaths(abortion, anxieties/heart-attacks, suicides) were induced by fearmongers and sensationalist mass media.