Rushing to Reopen the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant:
An ocular inspection of the 23-year old mothballed facility
January 22, 2009
The Bataan Nuclear Power Plant is a Westinghouse light water reactor, that uses pressurised water as its heat exchange medium between the reactor and the steam generators, The technology that is incorporated into the plant is essentially early seventies.
Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño and AGHAM Chair Dr. Giovanni Tapang at the connrol room of the BNPP
|At the nuclear reactor area|
|The Control Room of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant|
|At the Generator Room housing the 620 MW Westinghouse generator|
■ 620 MW - rated power output
■ US$ 2.3 billion - cost of construction, fully paid as of 2007
■ US$600 Original bid price
■ 0 (zero) watt - actual power produced
■ 1976 - start of construction
■ 1984 - completed construction
■ US$155,000 a day -- amount we paid until 2007 for the loan that was used to build the plant
■ Sen. Miriam Santiago and Rep. Mark Cojuangco - filed identical bills for the rehabiliation and reopening of the plant
Where will the funding for the rehab come from?
The bill pegs the rehab cost at a maximum of $1 billion.
■ The amount necessary for the initial implementation of this Act shall be charged against the appropriations of the Department of Energy
■ Thereafter, such sum as may be necessary for its full implementation shall be included in the annual General Appropriations Act as a distinct and separate item.
■ Charge each electric consumer 10 centavos per kwh for 5 years to be reimbursed to the electric consumers after such time that the BNPP shall commence commercial operations.
The operation is straightforward: the nuclear reactor heats up the water, which provides the steam to run the turbine which rotates the generator, which generates the electricity
How a nuclear power plant works
Rehabilitation of Bataan
nuke plant pushed anew
MANILA, Philippines -
Advocates of the utilization of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) on
Thursday pushed anew for the mothballed plant's rehabilitation, saying
this would help mitigate climate change and address looming energy
Arroyo said that at the
earliest, the appropriations committee may have the bill passed by the
second or third week of February.
Rep. Mark Cojuangco briefs media representatives on the status of the power plant
NAPOCOR President Froilan Tampinco, center, answers questions from Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño and AGHAM Chair Dr. Giovanni Tapang, right
A Napocor engineer gives detailed briefing on the maintenance of the plant
|House Energy committe chair Rep. Mikey Arroyo, Rep. Mark Cojouangco and Napocor President Tampinco at the press conference|
Philippine Climate Watch
Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño and AGHAM Chair. Dr. Giovanni Tapang interviewed by media in Morong, Bataan
Saga of Bataan nuclear
plant debt ends next year
Nemenzo said that Aquino
should have done a generation of Filipinos a favor by repudiating the BNPP
debt when she and the Philippines were the toast of the world after the
EDSA People Power Revolution in 1986.
|Rep. Mark Conuangco, Tarlac||Rep. Herminia Roman, Bataan 1st District||Cynthia Estanislao, Mayor of Morong, Bataan|
Major Nuclear Power Plant Accidents
December 12, 1952
December 7, 1975
March 28, 1979: Three-Mile
February 11, 1981
April 25, 1981
April 26, 1986
September 30, 1999
Aug. 9, Mihama, Japan:
nonradioactive steam leaked from a nuclear power plant, killing four
workers and severely burning seven others.
July 17, Kashiwazaki,
Japan: radiation leaks, burst pipes, and fires at a major nuclear
power plant followed a 6.8 magnitude earthquake near Niigata. Japanese
officials, frustrated at the plant operators' delay in reporting the
damage, closed the plant a week later until its safety could be confirmed.
Further investigation revealed that the plant had unknowingly been built
directly on top of an active seismic fault.
|Morong Parish Priest||Napocor President Froilan Tampinco||PNRI|
Dr. Arcilla of the UP National Institute of Geological Sciences
Dr. Carlito Aleta, former director and current consultant of the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute
Backgrounder on Chernobyl
Nuclear Power Plant Accident
On April 26, 1986, an accident
occurred at Unit 4 of the nuclear power station at Chernobyl, Ukraine, in
the former USSR. The accident, caused by a sudden surge of power,
destroyed the reactor and released massive amounts of radioactive material
into the environment.
To stop the fire and prevent a
criticality accident as well as any further substantial release of fission
products, boron and sand were poured on the reactor from the air. In
addition, the damaged unit was entombed in a temporary concrete
"sarcophagus," to limit further release of radioactive material. Control
measures to reduce radioactive contamination at and near the plant site
included cutting down and burying a pine forest of approximately 1 square
mile. The three other units of the four-unit Chernobyl nuclear power
station were subsequently restarted. The Soviet nuclear power authorities
presented an initial report on the accident at an International Atomic
Energy Agency (IAEA) meeting in Vienna, Austria, in August 1986.
After the accident, access to
the area in a 30-kilometer (18-mile) radius around the plant was closed,
except for persons requiring official access to the plant and to the
immediate area for evaluating and dealing with the consequences of the
accident and operation of the undamaged units. The population evacuated
from the most heavily contaminated areas numbered approximately 116,000 in
1986 and another 230,000 people in subsequent years (Source: UNSCEAR 2000,
Pripyat, the town near
Chernobyl where most of the workers at the plant lived before the 1986
accident, was evacuated several days after the accident, because of
radiological contamination. It was included in the 30-km Exclusion Zone
around the plant and is closed to all but those with authorized access.
The Chernobyl accident caused
many severe radiation effects almost immediately. Among the approximately
600 workers present on the site at the time of the accident, 2 died within
hours of the reactor explosion and 134 received high radiation doses and
suffered from acute radiation sickness. Of these, twenty eight workers
died in the first four months after the accident. Another 200,000 recovery
workers involved in the initial cleanup work of 1986-1987 received doses
of between 0.01 and 0.50 Gy. The number of workers involved in cleanup
activities at Chernobyl rose to 600,000, although only a small fraction of
these workers were exposed to dangerous levels of radiation. Both groups
of cleanup and recovery workers may become ill because of their radiation
exposure, so their health is being monitored.
The Chernobyl accident also
resulted in widespread contamination in areas of Belarus, the Russian
Federation, and Ukraine inhabited by millions of residents. Radiation
exposure to residents evacuated from areas heavily contaminated by
radioactive material from the Chernobyl accident also has been a concern.
Average doses to Ukrainian and Belarusian evacuees were 17 mSv and 31 mSv,
respectively. Individual exposures ranged from a low of 0.1 to 380 mSv.
However, the majority of the five million residents living in contaminated
areas received very small radiation doses which are comparable to natural
background levels (1 mSv per year).
The health of these residents
also has been monitored since 1986, and to date there is no strong
evidence for radiation-induced increases of leukemia or solid cancer
(other than thyroid cancer). An exception is a large number of children
and adolescents who in 1986 received substantial radiation doses in the
thyroid after drinking milk contaminated with radioactive iodine. To date,
about 4,000 thyroid cancer cases have been detected among these children.
Although 99% of these children were successfully treated, nine children
and adolescents in the three countries died from thyroid cancer.
Fortunately, no evidence of any effect on the number of adverse pregnancy
outcomes, delivery complications, stillbirths or overall health of
children has been observed among the families living in the most
Apart from the increase in
thyroid cancer after childhood exposure, no increase in overall cancer or
non-cancer diseases have been observed that can be attributed to the
Chernobyl accident and exposure to radiation. However, it is estimated
that approximately 4,000 radiation-related cancer deaths may eventually be
attributed to the Chernobyl accident over the lifetime of the 200,000
emergency workers, 116,000 evacuees, and 270,000 residents living in the
most contaminated areas. This estimate is far lower than initial
speculations that radiation exposure would claim tens of thousands of
lives, but it is not greatly different from estimates made in 1986 by
U.S. reactors have different
plant designs, broader shutdown margins, robust containment structures,
and operational controls to protect them against the combination of lapses
that led to the accident at Chernobyl. Although the NRC has always
acknowledged the possibility of major accidents, its regulatory
requirements provide adequate protection, subject to continuing vigilance,
including review of new information that may suggest weaknesses.
Assessments in the light of
Chernobyl have indicated that the causes of the accident have been
adequately dealt within the design of U.S. commercial reactors. However,
the Chernobyl accident emphasized the importance of safe design in both
concept and implementation, of operational controls, of competence and
motivation of plant management and operating staff to operate in strict
compliance with controls, and of backup features of defense-in-depth
against potential accidents.
Although a large nuclear power
plant accident somewhere in the United States is unlikely because of
design and operational features, the assessment of Chernobyl raised
questions as to whether changes were needed to NRC regulations or guidance
regarding reactivity accidents, accidents at low or zero power, operator
training, and emergency planning.
The NRC's response to the
Chernobyl accident was divided into three major phases: (1) determining
the facts of the accident, (2) assessing the implications of the accident
for safety regulation of commercial nuclear power plants in the United
States, and (3) conducting additional specific studies suggested by the
The first phase, fact finding,
was a coordinated effort between several U.S. government agencies and some
private groups, with the NRC acting as the coordinating agency. The work
was completed in January 1987 and reported in NUREG-1250, "Report on the
Accident at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Station."
The second phase, the
implications study, was reported in NUREG-1251, "Implications of the
Accident at Chernobyl for Safety Regulation of Commercial Nuclear Power
Plants in the United States," issued in April 1989. The report concluded
that no immediate changes were needed in the NRC's regulations regarding
the design or operation of U.S. commercial nuclear reactors as a result of
lessons learned from Chernobyl.
For the third phase, Chernobyl
follow-up studies for U.S. reactors were reported in June 1992 in
NUREG-1422, "Summary of Chernobyl Follow-up Research Activities." That
report closed out the Chernobyl follow-up research program, though certain
issues will continue to receive attention in the normal course of NRC
work. For example, the NRC will follow long-term lessons with regard to
contamination control -- decontamination, ingestion pathway, relocation of
people. The NRC recognizes that the Chernobyl experience should remain a
valuable part of the information to be taken into account when dealing
with reactor safety issues in the future.
The Chernobyl reactors are of
the RBMK type. These are high-power, pressure-tube reactors, moderated
with graphite and cooled with water. At the time of the Chernobyl accident
there were 17 RBMKs in operation in the Soviet Union and two in Lithuania.
Since the accident, five RBMKs have been shut down. All four units at
Chernobyl and one of the Lithuanian RBMKs were shut down.
In Lithuania, Ignalina Unit 1
was shut down in December 2004 as a condition of admission to the European
Union. Of the remaining 12 operating RBMKs, 11 are in Russia and one is in
Lithuania (proposed to be decommissioned by 2009).
The countries of the G-7, the
European Commission and Ukraine helped in closing these reactors. This
effort included support for such things as Chernobyl Unit 3 plant-specific
short-term safety upgrades, decommissioning of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power
Plant, development of an action plan for addressing the social impacts on
workers and their families resulting from Chernobyl closure, and
identification of power supply investments needed to meet Ukraine's future
electrical power needs.
On April 26, 1996, the tenth
anniversary of the Chernobyl accident, Ukrainian President Kuchma formally
established the Chernobyl Center for Nuclear Safety, Radioactive Waste and
Radio-ecology in the town of Slavutych. The Center would provide the
Ukraine with an indigenous, institutional capability to provide technical
support to its nuclear power industry, the academic community, and nuclear
Construction of the
sarcophagus covering the destroyed Chernobyl Unit 4 was started in May
1986 and completed by the Soviet authorities in an extremely challenging
environment six months later in November. It was quickly built as a
temporary fix to channel remaining radiation from the reactor through air
filters before being released to the environment. After several years,
uncertainties about the actual condition of the sarcophagus, primarily due
to the high radiation environment, began to emerge.
In 1997, the countries of the
G-7, the European Commission and Ukraine agreed that a multilateral
funding mechanism be established to help Ukraine transform the existing
sarcophagus into a stable and environmentally safe system through the
Chernobyl Shelter Implementation Plan. The Chernobyl Shelter Fund was
established to finance the Plan. The European Bank for Reconstruction and
Development was entrusted with managing the Fund. The Plan is intended to
protect the personnel, population and environment from the threat of the
very large inventory of radioactive material contained within the existing
sarcophagus for many decades. First, the existing sarcophagus will be
stabilized and then eventually it will be replaced with a new safe shelter
(confinement). New shelter construction is expected to start in late 2006
with a design to include an arch-shaped steel structure, which will slide
across the existing sarcophagus via rails. This new structure is designed
to remain functional for 100 years.
UNSCEAR 1988 Report, Sources,
Effects and Risks of Ionizing Radiation