“Making plutonium and fission products just to boil water (which is what a nuclear reactor does) is not a prudent approach to electricity generation.” – Arjun Makhijani, nuclear scientist
(While I’m waiting for the trial of Ombudsgirl Merceditas Gutierrez)
ME: Are you for switching on the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant?
SEN. MIRIAM SANTIAGO: It is alarmist to say we cannot have a nuclear power plant because look at what happened in Japan. We have to wait for what will be the effect of the partial meltdown in Fukushima before we make any comments with respect to the pending bill*.
ME: So you want to start up the BNPP.
SANTIAGO: The bill that I have filed only asks for public officials concerned to validate the operability of the BNPP. In other words, we are asking experts in our government to tell us if we can still operate Bataan, check for operability with respect to mechanical, electronic, and structural*.
ME: Ah, so you only want to study it. In that case may I give you my expert opinion?
ME: Nuclear power plants are very safe, as long as nothing goes wrong. Radioactive wastes can be stored safely, as long as nothing goes wrong.
SEN. SERGIO OSMENA III: There is no such thing as absolute safety. If you always want absolute safety, we will never even develop the airline industry because there is always an element of an accident. It’s just the level of safety commensurate to the level of public acceptance*.
ME: Who is talking about absolute safety? I’m talking about relative safety. A plane crash is different from a nuclear accident.
ME: But you brushed off the difference. You said, “It’s just the level of safety commensurate to the level of public acceptance.”
OSMENA: At day’s end it’s the people that will decide whether they want nuclear power or not.
ME: So it’s more about public relations than safety. Anyway, what happens when a plane crashes?
OSMENA: People die.
ME: What happens when a nuclear plant’s fail-safe back-up safety mechanisms malfunction?
OSMENA: People also die.
ME: That’s right. And furthermore, you mark out a radioactive fallout zone around the plant, like the 80 km. radius evacuation zone that the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) drew around Fukushima. Now visualize that same fallout zone around the BNPP. Can you see that the evacuation zone will include practically all of Bataan and Pampanga and parts of Zambales, Tarlac, Bulacan, Metro Manila, Cavite, and Batangas?
OSMENA: I know that.
ME: Then I’ll ask you something you don’t know. Can a plane crash ever impact an area as large as a fallout zone?
OSMENA: Of course not!
ME: Of course yes when a plane dives into a nuclear power plant.
OSMENA: Don’t be silly; nuclear power is safe.
ME: Then why not build one right in the heart of Metro Manila? You can cut power transmission costs by half if you do that.
SEN. ALAN PETER CAYETANO: I also want to know why some are insisting that we use the Bataan site. Is it really just cheaper or more advantageous*?
ME: I think your concern over location misses the point. The problem is with the method not with location.
ME: Like the man said, “Making plutonium and fission products just to boil water (which is what a nuclear reactor does) is not a prudent approach to electricity generation.”
CAYETANO: But nuclear power produces clean energy.
ME: That’s true only if you ignore the fact that nuclear energy production is a process that begins with mining uranium and ends with hundreds of thousands of tons of radioactive wastes that no one knows how to store or reprocess safely
CAYETANO: Radioactive waste storage facilities can withstand practically any destructive human or natural force.
ME: For at least 24,000 years?
ME: That’s the amount of time it takes for plutonium-239 to decay. At any rate, what do we do with the BNPP?
ALL THREE SENATORS: That’s what we’re still trying to figure.
ME: I have a solution.
ALL THREE SENATORS: Let’s hear it.
ME: Let’s just convert the BNPP into a prison for all those who will be charged with plunder after Ombudsgirl Merceditas Gutierrez vacates her office.
*lifted verbatim from newspaper reports