Greenpeace Southeast Asia


How far is ‘safe’ when it comes to nukes? by Chuck Baclagon

I believe that one reason why the powers that be in the government and the energy sector are all keen on pushing for the revival the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant is partly because of the fact that we all have come to believe that Bataan is too far off from Manila, for it to affect us in the event of a nuclear accident.


To start, such a thought should shudder us, since we all know that Bataan is densely populated with around 394,992 living in the province as of 2007. To think that a nuclear facility located in the province is already callous on our part and not to mention, unfair to the people of Bataan.

But that is another issue, what we’re talking about now is the proximity of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant to Metro Manila.

If you try drawing a straight line in a map from Morong, Bataan to Manila (just as I’ve done in the map above), we will discover at a glance that it is not that far!

True enough, it isn’t that far, according to the map that I drew above using Google Maps, its only 47.8 miles or 76.9 kilometers (km), in metric terms.

How far is 76.9 km anyway?

The sad answer to that is: not far enough

76.9 Kilometers

If is to be looked at in terms of how long the NAIA runway is, which is about  3.7 km from end to end. Imagine that it only takes around 20 airport runways like the one in NAIA in order to match the 76.9 km distance from Morong to Manila.

It can also be looked at how much time does it take us to travel from Manila to Bataan, which is around 2-3 hours if we will travel by land. But it nowadays one can only take a ferry from Roxas Boulevard to Bataan which takes about an hour.

Now consider how long radioactive clouds shot up into the atmosphere would travel if it were blown by strong winds heading east towards Manila, unrestrained by roads and traffic among other things.

The Chernobyl Disaster

One needs not to go far in highlighting the relationship of an imminent danger posed by a nuclear meltdown to distance to the disaster’s ground-zero. The Chernobyl nuclear accident of 1986 is a clear example of this.

The nuclear meltdown produced a radioactive cloud that floated not only over the modern states of Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova, but also Turkish Thrace, the Southern coast of the Black Sea, Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, Finland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic, The Netherlands, Belgium, Slovenia, Poland, Switzerland, Germany, Luxembourg, Italy, Ireland, France the United Kingdom and the Isle of Man.

The initial evidence that a major exhaust of radioactive material was affecting other countries came not from Soviet sources, but from Sweden, where on 27 April workers at the Forsmark Nuclear Power Plant (approximately 1,100 km (680 mi) from the Chernobyl site) were found to have radioactive particles on their clothes.

Think about it, people from 1,100 km off the site still experienced the effect of the radiation that came from the meltdown, how much more with 76.9 km?

Not to mention how much more in terms of the extent of damage, since 76.9 km is definitely closer than 1,100 km.

Would we be able to react fast enough to save ourselves if such an event happens?

Must we paint them a picture?

To paraphrase Billy Bragg: “must we still paint them a picture?”

This is a thought that has recently been poping up in mind whenever I would hear the proponents of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant, talk about the benefits of nuclear power. And from the looks of it maybe we really do need to paint them a picture.

I am not trying to paint a horrid picture of a nuclear disaster nor am I hoping for apocalyptic scenarios in the event of the possible operatonalization of the Bataan Nuclear Plant, I am simply saying that what has been established in the map above might be a possible reality that we would all learn to learn to deal and live with in the event of opening the nuclear power plant in Bataan.

Lastly, in using this map I am not presenting myself as an expert in geography but what I am simply trying to drive at is the fact that – now more than ever are we able to back our arguments and establish the obscurity and foolishness of the BNPP revival bill by using the technology that is readily available in the Internet to substantiate our arguments for or against something.

It is for this reason that I have used this map. I believe that nuclear power  is an unacceptable risk to the environment and to humanity. The only solution is to halt the expansion of all nuclear power, and for the shutdown of existing plants.

We need an energy system that can fight climate change, based on renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Chuck Baclagon

75 Comments so far
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The possible effects in reviving the BNPP isn’t obscure, since the tragedy of Chernobyl had already manifested the devastating effect of a nuclear power plant…

collective action is really needed…

Comment by naldy

i think reviving a nuclear power is not a valid reason to have a sustaianable power.. we have a lot of energy source specialy in our provinces.. we have in Bicol the geothermal energy, we have the pagsanghan fall.. and i think making a Nuclear plan is not a good idea..

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