Mothballed BNPP more modern and sturdier than the Fukushima Plants — Cojuangco

April 1, 2011 11:41 pm 

By Leonardo V. Micua

DAGUPAN CITY, March 31 — The mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) is more modern and a lot sturdier than the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plants in Japan which are now showing signs of emitting radiation after it was hit by a tsunami as an aftermath of the 9.0 magnitude earthquake that rocked Sendai, Japan last May 11.

This was disclosed by former Rep. Mark Cojuangco, who appears to be the top exponent for the revival of the BNPP as well as the establishment of additional nuclear plants in the country to plug the impending power crisis that may resort in long power blackouts in the Philippines soon.

He told newsmen in Pangasinan on Wednesday that had the BNPP been the one that was installed at Fukushima, Japan, there would not have been any disaster that would happen even if it was hit by a tsunami.

Speaking at the Media in Action Forum in Pangasinan, the son of business tycoon Eduardo Cojuangco said, in the first place, the nuclear reactors at Fukushima have no tsunami-designed basis unlike the BNPP which was built 10 years later.

Cojuangco authored a bill in the past Congress seeking the revival of the BNPP which was refilled at present by his wife, Rep. Kimi Cojuangco.

But, in view of the incident at Fukushima, Cojuangco declared a self-imposed moratorium on his personal advocacy, pending official investigation into the incident by experts from the International Atomic Energy Commission.

He told newsmen the Fukushima Plants were built near the sea but the mistake was, it was not placed at an elevated area that would not be reached by tsunami.

Cojuangco said when BNPP was being built in late 70s, there was a tsunami that hit the southern part of the country. Thus, the location of the plant was transferred from Bagac, Bataan to Morong which is about 18 meters above sea level.

“Tsunami-designed factor po ang BNPP, unlike the Fukushima plants,” he explained.

At the same time, he said the seismic design load basis of Fukushima plants is 0.18G, so these did not crumble during the May 11 earthquake, which was one of the strongest that hit Japan yet. But the seismic design load basis of BNPP is much higher at 0.4G, which is more than double than the design basis of the Fukushima Plants.

He said the Fukushima Plants were able to withstand the 9.0 magnitude earthquake because the Japanese put additional safety factors to the plants. He added that more safety factors were infused into the BNPP when it was built 10 years later.

He also said the Fukushima plant is a classic example of a Boiling Water Reactor (BWR), which he added was the first design that came out during the first era of nuclear energy.

On the other hand, the BNPP is a Pressurized Water Reactor (PWR), which he added is more expensive and is four percent more efficient than the former.

At the same time, the BNPP has cooling circuit that does not allow the water to mix with the plant’s primary circuit. He said this circuit can be vent so it will not touch the nuclear fuel thus it will not result to emission of radiation materials.

The PWR, Cojuangco said, is one evolution undertaken possibly owing to the protest movement in the United States in the 70s that sought and demanded more safety features for nuclear plants.

The BNPP was built for the Philippines by the American company Westinghouse and, to date, it is now wholly-owned by the Filipinos, said Cojuangco.

Cojuangco said 70 percent of the nuclear plants in the U.S. are PWRs, not BWR, like the now problematic Fukushima plants in Japan. (PNA)

DCT/LVM/rma

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