Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian emphasized the need to extensively study all factors before reopening the controversial Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP).
The senator’s call comes as Pres. Rodrigo Duterte is considering the plant’s revival in a bid to add nuclear power into the country’s energy mix.
“We need a number of comprehensive laws to address infrastructure issues. Dahil nga malaki ang risk o pagkadelikado, maraming batas ang kailangan para [masigurong] ligtas ang ating bansa sa ganitong teknolohiya,” Gatchalian explained in a statement.
Gatchalian, chair of the Senate energy committee, also said that there should be measures that guarantee the safety of residents living around the BNPP.
He particularly cited the actions taken by the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan, which was heavily damaged by the Tohoku earthquake in 2011. Some 100,000 residents living in the plant’s vicinity were evacuated from their homes and only a number of them were allowed to return last year.
“Kailangang planuhin natin ang ating tugon sa anumang posibleng mangyari at kung mayroon tayong kakayahan na rumesponde sa mga ganitong insidente,” Gatchalian emphasized.
Duterte had expressed his desire to do a consultation with the 30,000 residents of Morong town, where the plant is located. Gatchalian has expressed his support, adding that the benefits and risks of reopening the plant must clearly be communicated to the local townsfolk.
“I am one with the President in conducting local consultations with the residents of the province of Bataan because they will be the ones directly affected in case of a nuclear disaster,” Gatchalian said.
Built during the regime of former Pres. Ferdinand Marcos, the BNPP was never utilized after safety checks during the time of successor Corazon Aquino revealed thousands of flaws, including proximity to a major fault line and then-dormant Mt. Pinatubo, which erupted in the early 1990s.