HistoryThe Philippine nuclear program started in 1958 with the creation of the Philippine Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) under Republic Act 2067. Under a regime of martial law, Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos in July 1973 announced the decision to build a nuclear power plant. This was in response to the 1973 oil crisis, as the Middle East oil embargo had put a heavy strain on the Philippine economy, and Marcos believed nuclear power to be the solution to meeting the country's energy demands and decreasing dependence on imported oil.
Construction on the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant began in 1976. Following the 1979 Three Mile Island accident in the United States, construction on the BNPP was stopped, and a subsequent safety inquiry into the plant revealed over 4,000 defects. Among the issues raised was that it was built near major earthquake fault lines and close to the then dormant Mount Pinatubo.
By 1984, when the BNPP was nearly complete, its cost had reached $US2.3 billion. Equipped with a Westinghouse light water reactor, it was designed to produce 621 megawatts of electricity.
Marcos was overthrown by the People Power Revolution in 1986. Days after the April 1986 Chernobyl disaster, the succeeding administration of President Corazon Aquino decided not to operate the plant. Among other considerations taken were the strong opposition from Bataan residents and Philippine citizens.
The government sued Westinghouse for overpricing and bribery but was ultimately rejected by a United States court. Debt repayment on the plant became the country's biggest single obligation. While successive governments have looked at several proposals to convert the plant into an oil, coal, or gas-fired power station, these options have all been deemed less economically attractive in the long term than simply constructing new power stations.
Anti-nuclear movementThe Bataan Nuclear Power Plant was a focal point for anti-nuclear protests in the late 1970s and 1980s. The project was criticised for being a potential threat to public health, especially since the plant was located in an earthquake zone. And because a volcano formation was found near the location of the plant.
2000sDespite never having been commissioned, the plant has remained intact, including the nuclear reactor, and has continued to be maintained. The Philippine government completed paying off its obligations on the plant in April 2007, more than 30 years after construction began.
On January 29, 2008, Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes announced that International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) 8-man team led by Akira Omoto inspected the mothballed Bataan Nuclear power station on rehabilitation prospects. In preparing their report, the IAEA made two primary recommendations. First, the power plant's status must be thoroughly evaluated by technical inspections and economic evaluations conducted by a committed group of nuclear power experts with experience in preservation management. Second, the IAEA mission advised the Philippines Government on the general requirements for starting its nuclear power program, stressing that the proper infrastructure, safety standards, and knowledge be implemented. The IAEA's role did not extend to assessing whether the power plant is usable or not, or how much the plant may cost to rehabilitate. On February 1, 2010, NAPOCOR started evaluating the financial plan of Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO), assessing that it may cost $US1-billion to rehabilitate the nuclear plant.
On February 22, 2011, the Philippine government will reimburse the National Power Corporation (NAPOCOR) ₱4.2 billion (US$96 million) it spent for maintaining the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant. It requires an average of ₱40 million a year just to maintain it. In May 2011, it was announced that the plant would be turned into a tourist attraction.