Mark Cojuangco failed to prove his case

By Roberto Verzola

Philippine Daily Inquirer First Posted 05:53:00 03/15/2009

Engr. Verzola is the convenor of the Philippine Greens and co-author of the book “Debts of Dishonor” (1991) on odious debts, which include the BNPP loans.

REPRESENTATIVE Mark Cojuangco should have realized that he took on a huge burden of proof, with his proposal to activate the BNPP, for at least two reasons:

The public is acquainted with the BNPP’s well-documented history of corruption under the Marcos regime ranging from substandard construction materials and practices to bribes to the president, as described in the book “Debts of Dishonor.”

Three major official studies had found the BNPP unfit to operate: a technical study by a team of over 15 nuclear experts assembled by NUS Corp. in 1988; a second study, also under the term of President Corazon Aquino, by a team of 50 nuclear experts commissioned in 1990; and a third review conducted after a proposal to revive the plant was raised under the term of President Fidel Ramos, which again led the government to decide otherwise.

Cojuangco has failed to prove his case because of the following: He completely ignores official studies. Instead, he justifies his proposal with miscellaneous factoids on nuclear plants in other countries, selectively culled from the Web and Wikipedia.

At the February 2 public hearing conducted by the House of Representatives, he could neither cite nor present detailed technical, economic or fi nancial feasibility studies on the BNPP, obviously because he has not done any.
His claim that “in the 50-year history of the nuclear power industry in the West, including the Three Mile Island incident, not a single person has been killed or injured” is so blatantly false it boggles the mind that a congressman would expose himself so.

An Internet search easily reveals the following deaths from nuclear plant accidents outside of Chernobyl: one death in Rhode Island, USA in 1964; two in Virginia, USA in 1986; two in Japan in 2000 (from a 1999 accident); another four in Japan in 2004; and two in Pakistan in 2008.

I was a resource person at the February 2 hearing in the House when he made a similar “no-deaths” claim, and I directly told him he was wrong. He still made the same claim at the February 20 Kamayan sa EDSA Forum, where I was also a resource person. He obstinately repeated this false claim in his March 8 piece at the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

At least three published scientifi c studies (Wing 1996, Chang 2003 and Kaatsch 2007) show that the incidence of leukemia and other cancers, especially among children, is higher within a 5-10 km radius of nuclear plants.
His $1-billion BNPP rehabilitation cost estimate comes from a questionable method based on comparable coal plant costs, instead of detailed cost estimates of actual services and materials for nuclear plants.

He claims that the BNPP will provide the cheapest electricity without giving any actual figures or providing any supporting financial study. He cites cheap nuclear electricity in France, the United States and elsewhere, ignoring the fact that their nuclear industries are heavily subsidized for nuclear bomb production.
His warning of a possible power crisis in 2012 is based on overestimated demand projections made before the global recession.

His Inquirer piece forces on the public a false “either-or” choice between nuclear and fossil fuels, ignoring such viable options like hydro, geothermal, biomass and wind.

While the rest of the world wants to subsidize renewable energy sources to increase demand and hasten a drop in prices, Cojuangco’s bill will instead tax renewables to subsidize nuclear power, which is bizarre.

For details and other arguments, please check the site

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