DOE, foreign experts conduct pre-feasibility study of BNPP

BAGAC, Bataan — Department of Energy (DOE) officials and foreign experts on nuclear energy recently conducted an ocular inspection and meetings as part of a pre-feasibility study on the possible rehabilitation of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP).

The team was headed by DOE Undersecretary Donato Marcos; Dr. Carlo Arcilla, director of the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI) under the Department of Science and Technology (DOST); Engr. Mauro Marcelo Jr., asset preservation manager of the National Power Corp. (Napocor); Djurica Tankosic, president of global nuclear development at the engineering and consultancy firm, Worley Parsons; and Leos Tomicek, senior vice president of nuclear projects and project curator of Rusatom Overseas Inc.

During a press briefing held at the Napocor Hotel and Training Center here Wednesday, Marcos said the activities of the experts in the next two weeks are part of a pre-feasibility study to determine whether or not the BNPP is still worthy of rehabilitation.

“Since the Nuclear Energy Program Implementation Organization was established in October 2016, this is a milestone in the road to an objective recommendation as mandated for NEPIO,” Marcos said.

He noted that because of the memorandum of cooperation between the Philippines and Russia, signed by President Rodrigo Duterte and Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi for the country, the cost of the pre-feasibility study has become significantly lower.

“We are going forward and we hope to make a comprehensive study on what could be the possible future of the BNPP, whether or not to rehabilitate or use the facility for something else,” Marcos said.

Arcilla, a geologist, said the Philippines is rich in mineral ores, such as iron, nickel and chromium, the three elements needed to make steel.

Unfortunately, with the current power generation technology, energy needed to move industry does not come cheap, so the Philippines imports steel even though the country exports 30 million tons of raw nickel ore, mostly to China, Arcilla explained.

“Nuclear power will hopefully bring the power costs down, minus the pollution, and allow us to industrialize. More importantly, we have to have a comprehensive nuclear energy program and regulatory framework to ensure safety,” he said.

“The main concern is that the law catches up with the reality on the ground. We need to push legislation and if President Duterte decides the law is ready, we will need the blessing of the International Atomic Energy Agency. The most important (thing) is to get the law passed and develop human resources,” Arcilla added.

Marcos reiterated that the meetings to be held in the next two weeks will merely determine if a feasibility study should actually be undertaken, particularly for the BNPP.

“Why should we let this remain a white elephant when we might be able to make good use of it?” Marcos said. (PNA)

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