last night i caught the start of ANC’s square off debate on the bataan nuclear power plant (BNPP), the host opining that no one who had anything to do with it back in the 70s and 80s seems to be around any longer, so here we go with a student debate, and the pro-BNPP kids proceeded to make mincemeat of the anti-BNPP kids particularly on questions over the integrity of the structure and oh-what-a-waste of good money when nuclear energy is so clean compared to coal blah blah blah.
it was painful to watch, the anti-BNPP kids obviously not having done enough research to be convincing, and i didn’t stay. but i returned at the end of the hour to hear the final verdict by three judges in robes (some 10, maybe 20 years older) who announced that the pro-BNPP kids were sooo galing, even they had been convinced by the arguments, hurray.
in aid of informed debate, my next three posts are on the BNPP, also known as the philippine nuclear power plant-1 (PNPP-1 — marcos had planned for two nuclear plants). these are excerpts from “A Primer on Nuclear Power” based on transcripts of a panel discussion of experts that environmentalist maximo “junie” kalaw‘s philippine institute of alternative futures (PIAF) and physicist and geodetic engineer celso roque’s haribon gathered together in a public forum at the height of demonstrations for a nuclear-free philippines in 1985.
the first is by dr. salvador gonzalez, de la salle university professor of theoretical physics, who tells how mankind stumbled on nuclear energy; he is not against the nuclear power plant in principle but requests a clean bill of health. the second is by dr. achilles del callar, nuclear engineer, dean of the college of science of adamson university, who tells of serious safety concerns, including leaking tubes, and the hopeless search for geologically stable sites for the storage of radioactive waste. the third by dr. ruben umali, radiation biologist of UP, tells of the lack of research on how sensitive Philippine flora, fauna, and marine life are to radiation, and how we therefore have no way of detecting radioactive leakages.
even marcos, powerful and astig as he was, did not have the guts to shrug off concerns not just about whether the plant is structurally sound and capable of withstanding major earthquakes and/or eruptions of volcanos nearby, but also about the nuclear reactor’s technical defects that even westinghouse could not deny, and the huge problem of where to put the radioactive waste. we would be very foolish, crazy, hare-brained to trust duterte’s energy sec alfonso cusi who is just another oligarch pala with the skimpiest science background but who dares tread where even marcos dared not.
so it’s not true that cory was just being vindictive when she ordered that the BNPP be mothballed. if she had been truly vindictive she would not have ordered that the debts incurred be paid with public monies — she would have told the foreign banks to go make singil marcos and his cronies instead.