BATAAN NUCLEAR PLANT: A BLESSING AFTER ALL?
Who would have thought that the Philippines would require more energy as it proceeds with its effort to industrialize? We have never even done any genuine industrialization but as we move onwards to build more plants and commercial establishments on top of constructing more structures and houses, we really need additional sources of power to feed the requirements of development. The former Marcos regime attempted to resolve the future problem by building a nuclear plant; this, at a time, when most Asian countries were on the verge of industrialization. Japan, Korea, China, Vietnam, India, Malaysia, Indonesia built their respective power lines and sustained their energy, cheap energy through nuclear powered plants.
In the Philippines, it was mothballed. The facility was left to rot. Despite the fact that it cost a fortune to build the plant, a financial curse for which the citizens must have to pay even if they never enjoyed its fruits, there was struggle to produce additional powers. Various models without resorting to nuclear energy were explored—coal, water,thermal even solar but since it is intermittent and the supplies were dwindling, electricity through the traditional grid was instead sourced. The foremost private agency, a monopoly if you may, that supplied electricity would have the upper hand in the production and distribution of power, nay, costly, as it were, even if our neighbouring countries have cut down on electricity cost because of nuclear power.
And because it was a monopoly, the people serviced are dependent on its internal requirements and could not make any complaint. It has to live with it. Even if it meant that people must bear the regular increases in their payment as a consequence of several items intended to be repaid and passed on to the consumers. Japan may have been the site of the most expensive city in the world, but we have outdone them by paying the most expensive electricity charges on a monthly basis.
The consumers had only the courts as its last resort but the energy producers had the last laugh. When the courts favoured the consumers’ position that there should be no more increases in the computation for electricity charges, a deluge of erratic electrical flow to the point that unannounced hours of sudden black out would be experienced on rotational basis. It did not only disturbed household and business establishments; it also interrupted traffic and sensitive medical procedures for days, for weeks and even months on end. Reminds me of the golden rule—he who has gold, rules!
Those who criticized the Bataan nuclear plant must indeed be laughing all the way to the bank. They were able to convinced the people that it was a dangerous proposition. That the nuclear plant was built on unstable ground and that a single swivel of an earthquake could blow up half of the island. With that argument, the nuclear plant was ruled as a hazard and therefore, the consumers must have to content themselves being exploited instead. It was only lately when news came about that the biggest naval armada of US is powered by nuclear energy—a ship motorized by nuclear energy. To think that the ship is moving from one area to another in open sea, constantly moving, constantly shoved and constantly toasted on the waves of an unforgiving water environment.
A significant portion of people’s money goes into the repayment for the loan used in the construction of Bataan nuclear plant. The loan was above board. Government for years has been dutifully disbursing the cost without even producing a kilowatt. People pays for it and at the same time pays for the regular consumption of energy they procure from the monopoly.
What else can be done? This is modern day exploitation courtesy of politics.