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RP SHOULD FOCUS ON RENEWABLE ENERGY INSTEAD OF REVIVING NUCLEAR PLANT

The Philippines should focus on developing renewable energy sources, which abound in the country, instead of reviving the potentially-dangerous nuclear power plant in Limay, Bataan, Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. said today.

Pimentel said the government and private sector should pour their limited resources on alternative, indigenous energy sources like solar, wind, sea wave, bio-mass, geothermal and bio-ethanol.

“The development of these renewable energy sources will initially entail huge capital investments. But once the physical infrastructures like generating and transmission facilities and processing plants are completed, they will produce power at a much lower cost. Sunrays and wind, for instance, cost nothing,” he said.

Pimentel recalled that the Aquino government decided not to operate the 620-megawatt Bataan nuclear plant after it was found to suffer from defects and the site lies on an earthquake zone.

“Let us not sacrifice the safety of our people. If a high-intensity earthquake occurs while the nuclear plant is operating, even residents of Metro Manila will be in danger of being exposed to nuclear radiation,” he said.

He said there was no suitable dumping ground for nuclear wastes which remain radioactive for thousands of years.

“If the nuclear wastes are improperly disposed of, they can emit radiation that can contaminate the water that we drink and the air that we breathe,” the senator from Mindanao said.

“There is a greater possibility that the nuclear plant will cause harm than bring benefits to the people. So I don’t think that this is the solution to our power problem.”

Pimentel said even industrially-advanced countries are finding it difficult to dispose of their nuclear wastes.  In the United States, he said nuclear wastes are being disposed of in the deserts of Nevada. But he said the people of Nevada are protesting why even the nuclear wastes from other states are being dumped in Nevada.

He said if Ilocos Norte Rep. Bongbong Marcos, Jr., along with Pangasinan Rep. Mark Cojuangco, is batting for the activation of the Bataan nuclear power plant, it is because his father, the late President Ferdinand Marcos was instrumental in the construction of the facility.

At the same time, Pimentel urged the government to look into the possibility of deploying to Mindanao six idle power barges – four owned by the National Power Corporation and two others by the Aboitiz Group – to stave off the acute power shortage there.

He said the government should first exhaust all possible measures to beef up the country’s power supply within the scope of powers of the President and the secretary of energy before contemplating on invoking emergency powers.

Pimentel said if the purpose of emergency powers is to enable the executive branch to take the shortcut by doing away with public bidding and other rules in awarding the construction of new plants, the temptation to overprice the projects will be too strong.
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