PH gov’t, public sector understanding key to forming clear nuclear policy

PH gov’t, public sector understanding key to forming clear nuclear policy

There are still many things the Philippines needs to work out before forming a concise nuclear energy policy, power experts said.

In her closing remarks during the nuclear energy conference last week, chairperson Maria Zeneida Angara Collinson said drafting a nuclear power program is a comprehensive process that will involve participation from both the government and the public.

“Key challenges to the development of a high nuclear scenario in the region include, among others: public acceptance and safety concerns, nuclear waste issues, large upfront investment, and uncertainty in government support,” she said.

She stressed that the public should first be knowledgeable on the benefits and challenges that come with the use of nuclear power.

Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Alfonso Cusi said the government will form a body “that will help us get all the necessary information to guide us in deciding to go or not to go nuclear.”

On Thursday, Cusi and nuclear experts went to the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) to inspect the site and discuss the prospects of reviving the plant.

“I was told… I was the only DOE secretary to enter BNPP… after [Energy] Minister [Geronimo] Velasco. I was surprised with what I saw… I didn’t expect to see it that way,” Cusi said.

Launching the BNPP for commercial operations will cost $1 billion, the energy chairman said. The National Power Corp. (Napocor) manages and maintains the BNPP for P50 million annually.

The BNPP, built under the rule of former president Ferdinand Marcos, was meant to begin its operations in 1986, but was stopped after it was opposed by environmental and other cause-oriented groups for safety concerns. Reports that Marcos received $80 million in kickbacks also surfaced.

Further development on the BNPP was halted after the Fukushima incident in 2011 put nuclear power plants under moratorium.

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