Transparency on nuclear policy sought

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    Learning from experience. The mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant which was the country first and only nuclear power station, never operated due to safety concerns.
    Learning from experience. The mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant which was the country first and only nuclear power station, never operated due to safety concerns.

    After urging the Department of Energy (DOE) to be more transparent in its nuclear program agenda, Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian has filed a resolution to conduct an inquiry on the status of the agency’s Nuclear Energy Program Implementing Organization (NEPIO), including its recommendation for the country to embark on a nuclear power program.

    “A comprehensive, transparent and public discussion must be made on the merits of a national nuclear program taking into consideration the social, economic, environmental, and technical effects and requirements of such a program,” said Gatchalian, Senate committee on energy chairman, in filing Proposed Senate Resolution No. (PSRN) 162.

    He said the development of a nuclear power program in any country requires three phases marked by a specific milestone and the completion of 19 infrastructure requirements.

    Each of the three phases requires specific actions as indicated in the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Milestones in the Development of a National Infrastructure for Nuclear Power, he added.

    “The Philippines is currently completing Phase One, which commenced when the DOE issued Department Order No. D.O. 2016-10-0013 last 2016, creating a body called NEPIO tasked with exploring the development and inclusion of nuclear energy in the country’s electric power supply,” Gatchalian said.

    Phase two requires preparation for the contracting and construction of a nuclear power plant after a policy decision has been made, and its milestone is an invitation to bid or negotiate a contract for the power plant, he said.

    Phase three details the activities necessary to implement the first nuclear power plant, and its milestone is the commissioning and operation of such activities.

    “The NEPIO has transmitted a communication to the Office of the President (OP), dated April 16, 2018, containing the following recommendations: (1) approval of a national position to embark on a nuclear power program; (2) issuance of an executive order in relation thereto; and (3) filing and/or certification as urgent existing bills providing for a nuclear regulatory and legal framework,” Gatchalian said.

    However, the OP has yet to act on the communication.

    According to Gatchalian, his move was also inspired by the country’s signing of a Memorandum of Intent with Russian officials “to jointly explore the prospects of cooperation in the construction of nuclear power plants in the Philippines” during President Duterte’s visit to Moscow last week.