Ph nuke deal with Russia to continue

Power PH – Featured Image – Rosatom

Despite the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, the Department of Energy (DOE) said that the country’s nuclear power deals with Russia’s Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation would continue. 

“We don’t see any problem actually with Russia in that connection, because it is a cooperation on building nuclear infrastructure in the Philippines.” Energy USec. Gerardo Erguiza, Jr. said in a recent briefing. 

Rosatom had partnered with the DOE in 2017 to conduct nuclear feasibility studies in the Philippines – including the audit and assessment of the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP), and the use of small modular reactors (SMRs) in the country. 

“We have to come up with many studies on safety, security, safeguards, human capacity, electrical grid, management, financing, radiation, fuel cycle, emergency preparedness – these are 19 items that are being studied,” Erguiza said, adding that they’re looking to finish one of the cooperation areas by April. 

“These are studies and we have not encountered any problem with Russia,” Erguiza added 

Last week, Pres. Rodrigo Duterte signed the national position for a Nuclear Energy Program (NEP) through Executive Order No. 164. Under the NEP, nuclear power will be included in the country’s energy mix through the Philippine Energy Plan. 

Erguiza flew to the United States to represent Energy Sec. Alfonso Cusi in the signing of the memorandum of understanding to explore the development of SMRs in island provinces. 

Re-electionist Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate Committee on Energy, said in the January episode of Power Podcast that he favors the setting up of SMRs over the revival of the BNPP.

However, human rights lawyer Atty. Jose Manuel “Chel” Diokno – another senatorial bet – said that the Philippines should focus on renewable energy rather than nuclear energy as it could “put the Filipinos in peril” citing that the country is situated in earthquake and typhoon belts. 

Diokno said that the government should prioritize “safer, cleaner, and more affordable” options for Filipinos. 

Think tank Institute of Climate and Sustainable Cities earlier said that pushing for nuclear energy in the country is 50 years too late.