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Nuclear research reactor reopening not tied to BNPP revival

A Facebook post claiming that the reopening of the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute’s (PNRI) nuclear reactor training facility on June 20 was in preparation for the “revival” of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant is misleading.

The PNRI said in its website that the Philippine Research Reactor-1 Subcritical Assembly for Training, Education, and Research (PRR-1 SATER) is solely for educational and training purposes and not for power generation.

Facebook page Team BBM 2022, however, linked the reopened facility to the mothballed BNPP when it first published the following post at 12:30 PM on June 24:

Preparation for Bataan Nuclear Power Plant Revival. HISTORY HAS BEEN MADE! At 2:47 PM today, all of the 44 fuel rods have been successfully loaded to the Philippine Research Reactor 1 - SATER core. The country has now a working nuclear reactor after 34 years. This is definitely a big step towards a nuclear powered Philippines. Kudos to the Nuclear Reactor Operations Section! © Gino Aliperio.”

Five hours later, Team BBM 2022 amended the post, removing the reference to the BNPP and retaining only the text of the post first uploaded on June 23 by Facebook user Gino Aliperio. Aliperio’s post made no mention of the BNPP.

The FactRakers team was able to take a screenshot of Team BBM 2022's post before it was revised to omit the misleading claim.

On May 23, Marcos announced in a press conference that he has opened discussions on reviving the BNPP in his meeting with the South Korean Ambassador. The BNPP was previously mothballed in 1986 by then-president Corazon Aquino, citing safety and economic reasons.

According to PNRI, the PRR-1 SATER was reopened to “support PNRI-initiated nuclear education programs that are being offered in UP Diliman since 2019 and Mapua University since 2020.”

Dr. Alvie Astronomo, project leader of the PRR-1 SATER, said in a video posted on PNRI’s Facebook page that PRR-1 SATER functions as a research reactor whose purpose varies greatly from a nuclear power plant.

The facility has yet to be fully operational but is open to technical visits and seminars. It is expected to be fully operational in 2023.

PRR-1, the country’s sole nuclear reactor training facility, was shut down in 1988 after “unresolved technical problems” were discovered weeks after the facility was upgraded. The PRR-1 SATER reopening was first conceptualized in 2014.

As of writing, Team BBM 2022’s misleading post has garnered over 5,000 reactions, 963 shares and 244 comments. It has been crossposted to at least five other Facebook pages with the same caption and photo. Several commenters praised Marcos for the facility’s reopening. (ML)


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