Written by LM, Sunday Punch Online
retrieved from Sunday Punch Online, http://punch.dagupan.com
FORMER 5th District Rep. Mark Cojuangco may have taken a step back on his campaign to revive the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP), but he is not giving up on his proposal to build nuclear plants in Pangasinan.
Cojuangco, speaking during a media forum in Dagupan last week, went as far as to say that if he could, he would host the nuclear plant right in his own backyard in Sison town in reaction to a challenge posted by retired Archbishop Oscar Cruz.
“Kung meron lang beach sa Sison doon na lang sa bahay ko,” he said at the first Media in Action forum of the recently-revived Pangasinan Press Club (PPC).
Cojuangco, whose family operates the Northern Cement Corporation plant in that town, explained that building a nuclear plant far from the sea is more costly.
Cruz was also invited but could not make it to the forum, which was moderated by PPC president Gonzalo Duque and former Anda Mayor Nestor Pulido who is now back as a broadcaster.
Cojuangco maintained that nuclear energy is a safer, more cost-efficient and durable power source despite the nuclear crisis in Fukushima, Japan.
He added that what is happening in Japan actually strengthens the cause of reviving the BNPP which, he pointed out, has more safety features than the Fukushima plant which is older by 10 years.
Cojuangco said his push for nuclear energy arises from the country’s need for more sources given the impending power crisis and the rising cost of electricity.
He said the country is losing out on economic opportunities with the power supply problem.
On the other hand, Akbayan partylist representative Zeus Salazar said his group is opposed to the use of nuclear power mainly because proponents have failed to explain the risks.
“Ang nababanggit lang yong mga kagandahan pero how about social acceptability and possible risks. Yong BNPP nakatayo sa bulkan,” said Salazar during the same forum.
Salazar, a resident of Dagupan City, said Pangasinan is hosting enough power plants with the existing hydro-plant in San Roque and the coal-fired plant in Sual.
He also pointed out that even Japan, a developed country, is now faced with the perils of using nuclear power source.
Cojuangco countered that while the Fukushima Plants were built near the sea, it was not placed at an elevated area that would make it safe from tsunami.
The BNPP, on the other hand, was built at about 18 meters above sea level in Morong, Bataan.
“May tsunami-designed factor po ang BNPP, unlike the Fukushima plants,” he explained.
He also said the seismic design load basis of Fukushima plants is 0.18G whereas the BNPP has 0.4G, or three times more, which means it will not crumble under any high-magnitude quake. .
Cojuangco underscored that the BNPP is newer than 70 percent of the 104 running nuclear plants in the United States.
Cojuangco again presented his position before the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) last April 1.
The SP last year already passed a resolution supporting the possibility of setting up nuclear plants in the province.
Some members of the provincial board, who signed the resolution, have said they maintain that position despite the recent situation in Japan.
However, new members of the board, particularly those allied with President Benigno Aquino III’s Liberal Party, are opposed to nuclear energy as a power source.–LM