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Scientists: More research needed for Bataan nuclear power plant revival

File photograph of Bataan Nuclear Power Plant.
The online news portal of TV5

MANILA - More studies need to be carried out before the mothballed Bataan nuclear power plant can be cleared for revival.

This is according to experts who gave presentations at a forum organized by the Department of Science and Technology - National Academy of Science and Technology (DOST-NAST).

Dr. Mahar Lagmay, a professor in the National Institute of Geological Sciences (UP-NIGS) at the University of the Philippines Diliman and a scientist who helped launch the geo-meterorological Project NOAH, warned against the hazards that could be brought about by possible volcanic activity of Bataan's Mt. Natib.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) classifies Natib Volcano as a "potentially active" one.

Lagmay said it is vital to monitor and study the volcano's condition "to come up with more precise scientific data" that will help determine whether the power plant should, indeed, be commissioned into operation.

For his part, PHIVOLCS deputy director Dr. Bartolome Bautista noted that there were active faults associated with the Manila Trench and nearby Lubao Fault, which must also be studied further so that the public would have a better idea of the related risks.

Geohazard Structural Earthquake Engineering Design engineer Carlos Villaraza, meanwhile, recommended that certain engineering interventions be applied to make sure the power plant will be safe in the event of an earthquake.

Another UP-NIGS professor, Dr. Carlo Arcilla, elaborated on nuclear waste disposal methods, including safe and environment-friendly ones used by highly-industrialized countries.

Nuclear power advocate and former lawmaker Mark Cojuangco defended the power plant as having been certified safe during the time of former President Ferdinand Marcos, when it was built.

Cojuangco claimed it had undergone the same tests performed on similar power plants, and that the Philippines would reap economic gains after the loans spent for it had been paid for.

Senator Ralph Recto affirmed previously that the decision to green light the power plant should be left to the scientists, "and not because someone has a 'light bulb' moment and then immediately orders that the plant be switched on".

For his part, Bayan Muna party-list Representative Carlos Zarate recommended that the government concentrate instead on "renewable energy, rather than dangerous sources of power like the long mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant".

He also pointed that there had been many serious nuclear accidents recently, such as the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan.

The Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI), the country's nuclear regulatory body, has a number of systems in place to respond to similar radiological emergencies, with plans to install one environmental radiation monitoring station per region.

As of July this year, there wee already three: one in Quezon City, another in Aparri, and the third in Palawan.