Groups cite seven reasons why BNPP must be opposed

MANILA, Philippines—Various cause-oriented groups today conducted a “pre-Valentine protest action” at the House of Representatives, urging legislators not to “break the people’s hearts” by junking House Bill 4631 which pushes for the immediate rehabilitation, commission, and operation of the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP).

Chanting “Stop BNPP,” members of the Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC), Partido Manggagawa (PM) and Kilusan para sa Pambansang Demokrasya (KPD) aired their calls, coinciding with a Committee on Appropriations meeting which was tasked to discuss the appropriations of “necessary” funds for BNPP.

In a statement, the groups said: “As the day of love and passion nears, we appeal to our legislators to show their love of country, environment and the people by rejecting an overtly flawed and haphazard proposal to operate the ‘Monster of Morong’.”

They said that contrary to claims made by its proponents, led by Pangasinan Rep. Mark Cojuangco, that the operation of the nuclear facility will contribute to development and provide cheaper electricity, the archaic power plant will not only put the larger public in great danger of nuclear and geological catastrophes, it will also place undue misery to an already debt-burdened public and to our crisis-stricken economy. They said the liabilities much more the arguments against the operation of the nuclear facility outweighs it supposed benefits.

Seven reasons

FDC together with other groups and experts such as Greenpeace, Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM), Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines (AMRSP), geologist Prof. Kelvin Rodolfo and Engineer Roberto Versola has outlined seven (7) fundamental reasons why the operation of BNPP must be opposed:

1. The proposal to operate BNPP lacks recent technical, economic or financial feasibility studies.
2. It is structurally defective and unsafe.
3. The site has an unacceptably high risk of incurring serious damage from earthquakes, volcanism, or both.
4. It is an unnecessary response to faulty power shortage projections.
5. It would be costly to operate and accompanied by enormous hidden costs.
6. It is a glaring testimony to the government’s continuing wasteful debt policy at the expense of the peoples’ welfare.
7. It is not an answer to Climate Crisis, nor an alternative to Renewable Energy.

Fiscally challenged

Likewise, FDC which had been in the forefront of the anti-BNPP campaign since the 1980s appealed to the House Committee on Appropriations to defer any decision to provide funds to the proposed BNPP operation without subjecting it to a “national discourse” as well as a thorough and unhurried scrutiny conducted by experts.

The groups said that in a time of a grueling economic crisis, all government appropriations and spending must be subjected to utmost levels of inspection to guarantee that it would truly serve the interest of the people.

FDC said rehabilitation and construction costs alone of a nuclear facility are historically and by experience of other countries exceed the budget around 2-3 times the estimates. It said the cost of the eventual decommissioning of a nuclear plant, citing a US Nuclear Regulatory Commission Report of 2004, is around US$300-450 million.

Debt-creating

The debt watchdog said Conjuangco’s bill has already indicated that the operation of BNPP needs an appropriation of US$1 billion which could be raised either by charging consumers an additional 10 centavos surcharge in electricity generation or by incurring more debts. FDC said this is less of a choice than a matter of enslavement.

“The people will have to pay either way because the priority of government has always been debt service over social welfare. Simply put, the potential of creating new debts through the re-commissioning of BNPP is not only real but the height of injustice—a seemingly quirk of fate of generations of Filipinos who already shouldered the original debt incurred by BNPP,” FDC said.

The BNPP incurred a monster loan of US$2.3 billion and some US$640 million worth of interest payments, from an initial estimated cost of US$600 million in 1975. Currently, the country’s national government debt is said to be PhP4 trillion.

The groups urged members of Congress to defer any decision allowing the swift passage of Cojuangco’s bill without satisfying the serious environmental, fiscal and social impact issues and arguments raised against it.

“In the spirit of the upcoming Valentine’s day, we urge our lawmakers to have a heart, heed the people’s call, and junk the BNPP revival bill,” FDC said. -30-

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