Fishers group opposes proposed nuclear plant in Semirara island
Manila, Philippines – The fishers group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) slammed the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute’s (PNRI) proposal to construct a nuclear power plant at the coal mining site of D.M. Consunji, Inc. (DMCI) in Semirara island, Caluya town in Antique province and claimed that it will threaten not just the safety of the population but also the marine biodiversity in the sea between the Mindoro island and Antique, including Bulalacao Bay and Tablas Strait.
“Hindi totoong walang magrereklamo kung sa Semirara island itatayo ang isang nuclear power plant, dahil kahit bago pa pumasok ang DMCI coal mining dito noong 2007, ay may nagreklamo nang mga magsasaka at mga mangingisda, at sa expansion nito noong 2014,” Pamalakaya National Chairperson and former Anakpawis Party-list lawmaker Fernando “Ka Pando” Hicap said in a press statement.
(It is not true that no one would protest against a nuclear plant in Semirara island, given that the DMCI coal mining in 2007 was opposed by farmers and fisherfolk communities, and its expansion in 2014.)
The group earlier expressed its opposition on any plans to set up a nuclear power plant in the country, due to geohazard vulnerabilities. Based on the hazard map formulated by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the country is predominantly at Degree VII to XII of the modified Mercalli Scale on earthquake intensity. The degree is from severe or “Damage slight in specially designed structures; considerable damage in ordinary substantial buildings with partial collapse” to extreme or “Damage total. Waves seen on ground surfaces. Lines of sight and level distorted. Objects thrown upward into the air. Moreover, the country on the Saffir-Simpson Scale for Tropical Storm Intensity is at range Category 2 or with maximum sustained winds of 154 to 177 kilometer per hour, to Category 5 or 250 kph and stronger.
Hicap said that DMCI’s destructive operations have transformed the island into a hazard island such as the July 2013 landslide that killed 6 workers, the February 2018 incident that killed 1 employee and the recent October 2 case that killed 1 worker.
He added that the region between the Mindoro and Panay island is pierced by the Philippine Fault System, and the Antique province is usually struck with earthquakes. It felt Intensity VI during the October 13 destructive earthquake in Bohol, magnitude 4.2 in October 2018, 4.7 in November 2018, 4.2 in August this year, and 3.7 the following September.
Fundamentally, the very operations of a nuclear power plant is a threat to marine biodiversity as it throws away radioactive water or water used in its reactors. The case of Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011 in Japan, led to the release of radioactive water in the Pacific Ocean.
“Mukhang hindi pa sapat ang mga economic programs ng gubyerno na pumapatay sa kabuhayan ng mga mangingisda at magsasaka, at kailangan pang ilagay sa direktang panganib na ibubunga ng isang nuclear power plant. Hindi lang mga mangingisda at magsasaka ang maaapektuhan nito, kundi lahat ng mamamayan sa bansa,” Hicap ended. ###
(It seems that economic programs that lead to destruction of livelihood of fisherfolk and farmers are not enough for the government, it has to put us in direct threats of a nuclear disaster. This would affect all of us in the country, not just the rural-based sectors.)