Nuclear to gas conversion plan unpopular

The Philippines Government’s plan to convert the controversial, but unused, Bataan nuclear power plant (BNPP) into a gas-fired utility has come under fire from both politicians and the private sector.

If Philippines President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo gets her way, the plant will be part of a five-point program to make the country self-sufficient in energy needs.

In a statement Anakpawis party Representative Crispin Beltran said, “Mrs Arroyo’s plan is circuitous, complicated and a roundabout way of solving the power crisis. The government should funnel resources towards buying back the Petron oil refinery [the government still retains a 40% share] and staking its claim over oil resources that are being discovered and taken over by the US and others”

Beltran’s views are shared by Federation of Philippine Industries president Jesus Arranza. According to Arranza, “The government [has] to make sure that converting the plant into a natural-gas facility [will] be financially viable.”

BNPP was started in 1984 during the final days of the Marcos regime but abandoned two years later during the Aquino administration due to safety concerns and allegations of corruption. It never produced a single Watt of electricity but the Philippines government continues to pay US$155,000 per day in interest charges on a loan which will only be fully paid in 2018.


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