Fact checks on public officials

FALSE: Bataan Nuclear Power Plant equipment is missing

FALSE: Bataan Nuclear Power Plant equipment is missing
Several sources, including the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute, confirm that the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant’s equipment, including the nuclear reactor, are still inside the plant
At a glance
  • Claim: The pieces of equipment inside the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP), including the nuclear reactor, are missing.
  • Rating: FALSE
  • The facts: Bataan Nuclear Power Plant’s equipment, including the nuclear reactor, are still inside the plant, according to information from Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI) Director Carlo Arcilla, former Pangasinan 5th District representative Mark Cojuangco, and footage from Al Jazeera English.  
  • Why we fact-checked this: The claim was promoted in posts in several Facebook pages. One such post was made by the page “Jevara PH” on July 24, citing Senator Imee Marcos as the source of the claim.
Complete details

A July 24 post on the Facebook page “Jevara PH” said that there is nothing inside the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP), including the nuclear reactor, attributing this information to Senator Imee Marcos.

The post came with a video in which Imee Marcos elaborated on the claims in an interview with SMNI News Channel on October 2, 2020. The relevant portion begins at 17:58.

The post reads: “Well, ang totoo, ang BATAAN NUCLEAR PLANT, e wala ng laman… BINENTA na…. CHINOP CHOP ang laman…… Wala ng laman yan…. Wala ng REACTOR….. Talagang KINAHOY na kumbaga.. – Sen. Imee Marcos.

(Well, the truth is, the Bataan Nuclear Plant is already empty. The equipment were chop-chopped, there’s nothing inside there anymore. The reactor is gone, I mean, taken apart. – Sen. Imee Marcos)

As of writing, the post from “Jevara PH” has about 5,300 reactions, 479 comments, and 2,100 shares, while the video has about 180,000 views. 

A CrowdTangle search also showed several other Facebook pages where the claim can be found, such as “Philippine Marcos Loyalist,” “Philippine Political History,” “Bongbong Marcos 2022,” “President Ferdinand E. Marcos,” and “PARA SA BAYAN.”

The claim that the equipment of the BNPP, including the nuclear reactor, are no longer in the plant is false. 

In a reply to Rappler’s email, the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI) said the equipment, including the nuclear reactor, were still inside the BNPP, and often shown to visitors.

The email response also said that Dr. Carlo Arcilla, PNRI director, had addressed the issue on several platforms. 

In an interview with TeleRadyo on October 4, 2020, regarding the state of the BNPP, Arcilla said, “In fact, imbitahin ko kayo pumunta doon. Ian lang yung nuclear plant sa buong mundo na p’wede ka mag-selfie doon sa loob ng reactor.

(In fact, I am inviting you to go there. That is the only nuclear plant in the world where you can take a selfie inside the reactor.) 

Arcilla reiterated this in an October 6, 2020, interview with SMNI News Channel, which interviewed Imee Marcos four days earlier.

Former Pangasinan 5th District representative Mark Cojuangco, who has organized a number of tours to visit the BNPP, also said in an interview with SMNI News Channel on October 5, 2020, that it was false that the BNPP had nothing left inside. He added that Imee Marcos had never visited the plant at all. 

Cojuangco has advocated for the use of nuclear power and the revival of the BNPP. He says that nuclear power is affordable, environment-friendly, and can free us from heavily relying on coal as a source of energy. (READ: Why revive the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant?)

The PNRI’s response also included a link to a footage from Al Jazeera English taken and aired in January 2021. It showed that the BNPP’s equipment were still there. The footage also featured remarks from Arcilla, Cojuangco, and Senator Sherwin Gatchalian.

Opposition to the revival of the BNPP stems mainly from the safety of handling, especially of the nuclear waste, and from the geological soundness of BNPP’s location. (READ: Construction of nuclear power plants in PH risky – Gatchalian; [OPINION] ‘Megatons to Megawatts’: Prices and true costs of nuclear energy)

Rappler has fact-checked claims about the BNPP before. (READ: FALSE: Bataan Nuclear Power Plant to reopen; MISLEADING: Bataan Nuclear Power Plant ‘wasted by Cory Aquino’) – Percival Bueser/Rappler.com

Percival Bueser is a graduate of Rappler’s fact-checking mentorship program. This fact check was reviewed by a member of Rappler’s research team and a senior editor. Learn more about Rappler’s fact-checking mentorship program here.

Keep us aware of suspicious Facebook pages, groups, accounts, websites, articles, or photos in your network by contacting us at factcheck@rappler.com. Let us battle disinformation one Fact Check at a time.

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