Activists who successfully opposed the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) in the 1980s banded with environmentalists and science advocates to stop government plans to revive the mothballed project, identified as the most fraudulent transaction during the Marcos dictatorship.
In a hybrid meet-up in Quezon City held last September 15, the groups re-launched the Network Opposed to Bataan Nuclear Power Plant Revival (NO to BNPP Revival), an alliance committed to stopping the dangerous nuclear plant from being operated.
“If allowed to operate, the BNPP will pose a grave danger to Filipinos, not only those living in Bataan but also those in communities in a far larger radius surrounding the power plant,” said Jon Bonifacio, National Coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.
Among those who attended the re-launch co-organized by Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) and the Advocates of Science and Technology for the People (AGHAM) were Prof. Roland Simbulan and Dr. Kelvin Rodolfo, key figures of the 1980s anti-BNPP movement.
In his first State of the Nation Address, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said he thinks the country should consider the use of nuclear energy, claiming that modern technology has created enough safeguards against possible catastrophic accidents, despite contrary evidence.
According to Bonifacio, for a country plagued by corruption and a brain drain of technical experts, compounded risks of the revived BNPP will inevitably lead to catastrophes with long-term effects akin to the 2011 Fukushima disaster.
“Nuclear waste will remain radioactive and dangerous to human health for thousands of years. The BNPP is dangerous, not only to Filipinos alive today but even to future generations,” Bonifacio added. “The BNPP is the Marcos dictatorship’s single largest budol. Any attempt to revive it should be met with vigilance, especially amid economic and climate crises.”
Anti-graft bodies found that Marcos crony Herminio Disini would receive US$50.6 million in commissions for brokering the deal with Westinghouse. In 2021, the Supreme Court would order him to pay back the government over PHP1 billion in damages for this crime. Former President Marcos Sr. was also said to have received US$80 million in kickbacks from giving Westinghouse the license to build BNPP.
“We enjoin the Filipino people to resist the government’s plans to chase false solutions for renewable energy development. If one looks at well-performing economies, countries like Australia, and Malaysia, have stayed away from nuclear energy. Countries like Germany and Spain are on track in phasing out nuclear energy in favor of renewable energy,” Bonifacio said.
“Proposals to revive the BNPP should be opposed in favor of just and sustainable energy alternatives like community-based solar, wind, and hydroelectric power projects.”