South Cotabato officials ‘open’ to nuke plant proposal

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/10 April) – South Cotabato officials are considering a proposal to establish a nuclear power plant in the province to help address the worsening power supply shortage in Mindanao.

Gov. Arthur Pingoy Jr. said they are open to such possibility as a long-term solution for the area’s dwindling power supply as triggered by the unstable condition of the National Power Corporation’s hydropower plants.

Last week, former Tarlac Rep. Mark Cojuangco made a presentation on the matter in a meeting at the Sangguniang Panlalawigan session hall in Koronadal City.

Cojuangco has been visiting several parts of the country, especially in Mindanao, to promote tapping of nuclear power as a “cheaper alternative” to other sources like coal, hydro, power barge and solar.

The meeting was attended by provincial board members and other local government officials.

Pingoy said the proposal initially showed some promise in terms of effectively addressing the present power crisis but cited that it needs further studies and clarifications.

“We need to hear first from both sides – the anti and pro-nuclear power plant groups – and other concerned sectors,” the governor said.

in a report released by the South Cotabato Information Office, Pingoy, who previously represented the province’s second district at the House of Representatives, admitted that he was among the 197 authors of a bill that had sought for the reopening of the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant.

“But this issue should be undertaken objectively and based on facts. We can only decide upon hearing from the experts,” he said.

In his presentation, Cojuangco said an investment of around US$ 300 million is needed to put up a 50-megawatt modular nuclear power plant in the area.

He said such facility may provide for all the power requirements of the province and augment the needs of nearby areas in Region 12.

Region 12 covers the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Kidapawan, Cotabato, Tacurong and Koronadal.

But Pingoy said the local government may not be able to cope with the financial requirements of the project should they consider going for it.

He said they could not also allow proposals to put up the project in Lake Sebu town being a protected area.

“There are still a lot of questions that need to be answered and clarified to us and our constituents,” Pingoy said.

He added that the local government will deal with the issue in another public forum being organized by proponents. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)