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 Toshiba wants to restart Bataan nuclear plant

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PostSubject: Toshiba wants to restart Bataan nuclear plant   Sat Jul 24, 2010 12:32 am

Toshiba Corp., a Japan-based supplier of nuclear reactors, is interested in helping the Philippines re-power the mothballed 620-megawatt (MW) Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) in Morong, Bataan.

National Power Corp. (Napocor) president Froilan Tampinco said Kansai Electric Power Corp. and Tokyo Electric Power Corp. are also taking a second look at the Philippine nuclear power program.

Tampinco said Toshiba is keen on the BNPP because it bought Westinghouse Electric which built the $2.3-billion BNPP, the country's first and only nuclear power facility.

"It's just that they're interested in involving themselves in preparing our people for our nuclear program. They're saying they took over Westinghouse technology so they can look into the BNPP," Tampinco said.

The Napocor official said that Kansai and Tepco have expressed interest in providing the Philippine government with technical assistance for its nuclear power program, while Toshiba wants to "help out in the actual preparation for the rehabilitation of the Bataan nuclear."

In 1976, the administration of then President Ferdinand Marcos started building the BNPP. But in 1979, following the Three Mile Island nuclear accident in the US, safety issues were raised and an inspection revealed that the Bataan facility had around 4,000 defects. It was nearly complete in 1986 when Marcos was overthrown in a people power revolt.

The government had spent $2.3 billion for the nuclear facility it never used.

Tampinco said that if government will pursue the construction of a greenfield nuclear facility, there may be a need to amend the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) of 2001.

"Considering that EPIRA bars government from building new power plants, there will have to be an amendment to the EPIRA. Government is prohibited by EPIRA to put up new capacities," he said.

"But in the specific case of a nuclear facility, in all other countries, a nuclear facility is never part of the electricity market owing to the nature of its operations. And it will have to be outside of the electricity market," Tampinco said.

The Aquino administration is considering nuclear power development "as an option" and the Napocor board is still studying the proposal of Korea Electric Power Co. to rehabilitate the BNPP, according to the Napocor president.

Rehabilitating the BNPP will take five years, and around 10 years to construct an entirely new plant. Based on Kepco's estimates rehabilitating the BNPP will cost about $1 billion while building a new 620-MW nuclear plant will cost around $1.24 billion, or $2 million per MW).

"If we get a clear indication on what the present leadership is going to adopt as a policy [for nuclear] then we will go ahead. In the meantime, we are doing all the preparations already as we are sending people to be trained," he said.

"We have to take into consideration the lessons learned from the previous experience we've had. It's possible we build one now but the possibility of it being [operational] within this administration is not certain," Tampinco said.

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