Wake Up, Philippines!

CBCP rejects nuclear power plant revival

Posted in Alternative Energy, Energy, Legislation by Erineus on February 27, 2009

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has thrown its weight behind the opposition to rehabilitating the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP).

In a pastoral statement, the CBCP urged Congress to “completely and irrevocably reject the opening of the nuclear plant as the most dangerous and expensive way to generate electricity.”

The statement was issued by the CBCP president, Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo.

“Multiple risks and the possibility of corruption outweigh dreamed benefits. We recommend with other anti-BNPP congressmen and the Greenpeace Forum that the mothballed facility in Morong, Bataan, be dismantled as its revival will be most hazardous to health and life of the people,” read the CBCP statement.

The power plant was built by the Marcos regime in response to the Middle East oil embargo in the 1970s.

The $2.3-billion project, designed to generate 621 megawatts of electricity, was scrapped by the Aquino administration in 1986.

The Diocese of Balanga headed by Bishop Socrates Villegas earlier in the week staged a prayer rally against plans by some congressmen led by Pangasinan Rep. Mark Cojuangco to rehabilitate the nuclear plant to stave off an energy crisis.

The CBCP also strongly opposed the use of a coal-fired power plant as source of energy in Iloilo province and other parts of the country.

“We recommend the implementation of the approved bill on the use of renewable energy, such as solar, wind and water as safe sources of electricity,” the CBCP said.

No rush

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is in no rush to reactivate the nuclear power plant.

Malacañang Thursday said it would first await the study and series of consultations being done by the Department of Energy (DOE) before coming up with a firm position on whether to reopen the country’s only nuclear facility.

“The President will never compromise safety over speed,” Anthony Golez, deputy presidential spokesperson, told reporters in a briefing.

But Golez said that should the DOE study and consultations recommend reactivating the power plant, “then we would find no reason why we would have to delay.”

Asked if reopening the BNPP was a priority of Ms Arroyo, he said: “We know that her priority is that we should be energy-sufficient in the next few years.”

Golez said the government had “a lot of programs” to achieve this goal and that the BNPP was just one of them.

Last year, Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes said the government was seriously considering reopening the BNPP, noting that it had spent $2.3 billion to build the facility, which had generated not a kilowatt of electricity.

Rehabilitation cost

Reyes said a team from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had checked the facility and had pegged rehabilitation cost at $800 million for at least five years.

If it becomes operational, the BNPP will be one of the most dangerous nuclear power plants in the world, Greenpeace said Thursday.

The group said the BNPP, which has a light water reactor made by Westinghouse, did not conform to the current safety standards of the IAEA.

Outdated

Beau Baconguis, Greenpeace Southeast Asia Campaigns Manager for the Philippines, said the design of the BNPP was not only outdated but also faulty.

The BNPP’s compliance to IAEA nuclear plant construction and site selection protocols were already in doubt even before the BNPP was finished, Baconguis said.

Tessa de Ryck, Greenpeace Southeast Asia Nuclear campaigner, also said the BNPP was never evaluated according to standards of the IAEA which were raised after the 1986 Chernobyl meltdown.

The standard for nuclear reactors is “Generation 3,” which has double containment for its reactor and passive safety systems, according to De Ryck. The BNPP has a “Generation 2” reactor.

“We cannot be sure whether the BNPP can be upgraded to meet current reactor standards,” De Ryck said.

She said Westinghouse reactors were “breaking down with alarming regularity” because of design defects, including cracks in the main steam turbines, deterioration of the steam generator tube, and the reactor pressure valve turning brittle.

De Ryck also cited problems of other nuclear plants designed by Westinghouse and similar to the BNPP in Brazil and South Korea, which were plagued by outages and leakages of radioactive water.

Study by experts

A study commissioned by the Senate ad hoc committee on the BNPP and the Presidential Commission on the Philippine Nuclear Power Plant found the nuclear plant defective.

Environmentalist Nicanor Perlas, a technical consultant to the study, said that the study showed that the BNPP could not be operated safely because of the defective quality assurance program.

Perlas, who was not allowed to discuss the study’s contents at the hearing in the House appropriations committee on Wednesday, said in a statement that the study was completed during the term of President Corazon Aquino. It cost $9.5 million and was conducted by 50 nuclear experts.

40,000 defects

Perlas said the team found 40,000 defects and that it would cost $1.2 billion to $1.54 billion in 1990 rates to repair the plant. The repairs would take six and a half years.

Should the repairs be conducted, there was no guarantee that the BNPP would be safely operated because the quality assurance program was so problematic that the plant’s safety may never be established, Perlas said.

He also said James Keppler, a former official of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said the review team found “pervasive and significant” defects in the plant’s design, construction, quality assurance and start-up testing.

“The identified deficiencies are so pervasive and severe that the plant cannot be expected to operate safely and without undue risk to public health and safety,” he quoted Keppler as saying.

Where’s the study?

Walden Bello, president of the Freedom from Debt Coalition, said he was appalled that those pushing for the reopening of the BNPP seemed to be unaware of studies that thumbed down the facility’s operation.

Cojuangco said he had made several attempts to get hold of the study that Perlas was referring to, but added no one had so far been able to produce one.

He asked Perlas to give the title of the study and inform the committee where it could be obtained. Reports from Dona Pazzibugan, Alcuin Papa Christian V. Esguerra and Leila B. Salaverria

Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:20:00 02/27/2009

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/inquirerheadlines/nation/view/20090227-191285/CBCP-rejects-nuclear-power-plant-revival

Exploiting our culture

Posted in Congress, Legislation, Reproductive Health, Women by Erineus on February 20, 2009

Filipinos are known worldwide for their strong family ties and filial love and respect for elders and as staunch defenders and protectors of their women and children. Their respect and care for mothers, wives and children are relatively much more intense and intimate than that of people in any other country.

This admirable trait is deeply embedded in our culture. No law is even necessary to bring about such kind of respect for, as well as care and protection of our women and children. But just to preserve, enhance and support this desirable Filipino culture, and to assure that it will not be eventually set aside and disregarded, our legislators chose to enshrine it in the legislative annals by enacting Republic Act 9262 otherwise known as “Anti Violence against Women and Children Act” in 2004.

Lately, our legislators seem to have gone a step further by drawing up what it considered a “Magna Carta for Women” that on its face looks laudable or even badly needed in this present modernistic and materialistic day and age. Unfortunately on closer scrutiny, the said Magna Carta is turning out to be another insidious attempt to sneak into our statute books some of the toxic provisions of the RH bill. Vigorously campaigning for its approval is an organization known as the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) Watch Philippines. Working closely with it is the Philippine Legislative Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD) the same foreign-funded NGO which is the architect and principal promoter of the still pending RH bill. The backers of the “Magna Carta” betray the hidden agenda behind it.

It is really quite deplorable that these groups where some members of Congress belong are exploiting our own Filipino culture to advance their anti-life and anti-family, pro-abortion-population control agenda under the guise of a bill purportedly empowering women, upholding their dignity, protecting their rights and assuring their equality with men in economic, political, social and cultural life.

Because of their subtly altered form, some unconstitutional, anti-life and anti-family provisions of the Magna Carta went unnoticed, enabling it to breeze through second reading in both Houses. The report is that an appallingly large number of the members of Congress were not completely aware that the versions of the bill in their chamber were already approved on second reading and what remained was the pro-forma approval of the printed version on third reading.

In the Senate, the approval on second reading was reconsidered to accommodate new amendments. But it appears that some of these amendments worsened the objectionable features in the bill and rendered it all the more unconstitutional, anti-life and anti-family. But as expected the bill has also been approved on third reading.

The remaining step in the legislative mill is therefore the reconciliation of the Lower House and the Senate versions of the “Act providing for the Magna Carta of Women” by a Bicameral Conference Committee (BICAM) which will come out with the final version for signing into law. This should be one of those times when the existence of this Committee as some sort of a Third House of Congress further refining the products of both chambers can be appreciated. But again this largely depends on the BICAM’s composition. In this particular bill, most of the BICAM members designated by both chambers are also listed as “members” of the PLCPD. So they will expectedly insist on their “pet” provisions which are similar to the objectionable portions of the RH bill but in subtler more appealing form because it is supposedly pro-women.

Indeed one of the Senate BICAM members and principal sponsor of the Magna Carta, Senator Pia Cayetano has already come out with a press release warning that the BICAM should not “emaciate” the said bill. Cayetano insists that there is nothing in the bill which would allow abortion as abortion remains illegal under the 1987 Constitution. Yet in almost the same breadth she is batting for the use of contraceptives by women for the “reproductive health” citing in the process the high maternal mortality rate among Filipino women especially the poor. Obviously Cayetano (Pia) is using the same fallacious and deceptive argument advanced by the proponents of the RH bill. She still refuses to see that the “reproductive health care services” she is promoting that allows the use of contraceptives may cause abortion or cancer among women; and that “reproductive health” is neither about reproduction or health as it prevents or terminates pregnancy and may lead to death due to breast, cervical or liver cancer according to the studies conducted by WHO itself.

In the Lower House, Congressman Edcel Lagman, the principal sponsor of the RH bill is also the staunch backer of the Magna Carta. According to highly reliable sources Lagman suggested at a pre BICAM meeting the bill’s provisions be anchored solely on their adherence to the CEDAW and other international instruments which are in direct collision with our Charter and existing laws. Lagman also reportedly suggested the retention of provisions formally objected to by the Episcopal Commission of Family and Life and the CBCP Office on Women. He also reportedly wants to remove the word “ethical” qualifying the family planning methods made available in the bill as one of the comprehensive health services while insisting on the retention of “management of abortion complications” obviously to bring them fully in line with his RH bill.

The BICAM should therefore be more careful and should not rush the drafting of the final version of this bill just to have a photo-op for its signing on Women’s day celebration this coming March. There may not even be any signing at all if the final version is adopted in similar fashion as the versions of the Upper and Lower Houses; or if there will be a signing, its unconstitutional portion will just be invalidated by the Supreme Court.

Note: Books containing compilation of my articles on Labor Law and Criminal Law (Vols. I and II) are now available. Call tel. 7249445.

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E-mail at: jcson@pldtdsl.net
View previous articles of this column.

A LAW EACH DAY (Keeps Trouble Away)
By Jose C. Sison
Updated February 20, 2009 12:00 AM
http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=441886&publicationSubCategoryId=64