PNRI, Russian agency to partner for advancement of nuclear tech in agri, medicine

PH looking into nuclear energy, BNPP commercial operations

While the revival of the country’s lone nuclear power plant is under review, the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute Research (PNRI) is looking into the potential use of nuclear technology in the fields of agriculture and medicine.

The Russian State Atomic Energy Corp. (ROSATOM) is eyeing to enhance the Philippines’ nuclear research program through its partnership with the PNRI. ROSATOM has already partnered with countries like Bolivia and Zambia to put up a Center for Nuclear Science and Technology (CNST) which allows them to start exploration of nuclear technologies that can be used on science, healthcare, agriculture, geology, and other fields.

ROSATOM Southeast Asia Director Egor Simonov said putting up a project like that in the Philippines will allow the country to develop areas such as medicine and agriculture by using nuclear technology.

“Such centers can contribute to the improvement of living standards in a country by creating new jobs, spurring the development of medicine, solving some agricultural problems and many more. Along with social improvements, they create a solid foundation for the development of nuclear industry,” he said.

A Center for Nuclear Medicine can be utilized for diagnostics and treatment of cancer and other diseases, and for the production of radiopharmaceuticals for treatment, ROSATOM said.

In agriculture, a multipurpose irradiation center can be built to perform irradiation and sterilization of foodstuffs and medical supplies, which can increase the shelf life of products.

According to Simonov, the Philippines is one of the world’s top exporter of bananas, which is in high demand in the European market, making it viable for nuclear technology for agricultural use.

“If the Philippines intends to be the main exporter of this product, the country must improve its production conditions. For this purpose, Philippines will apply irradiation to improve the quality of its fruits. This is but one example of possible use of the technology in agriculture,” he said.

Moreover, a CNST aims to train personnel for the country’s nuclear program development. It is open for students from universities specializing in medicine, engineering, physics, and geology, and other adjacent areas of nuclear applications.

“The Philippines is relatively better positioned with its existing nuclear research program under PNRI,” Simonov said. “We hope to help the country advance further and harness the potential of nuclear technologies to the fullest.”

The Department of Science and Technology, which is affiliated with PNRI, signed the memorandum of understanding with ROSATOM in December 2017.

In the memorandum, the Philippines will receive technical assistance from ROSATOM through an exchange program of experts in training and education, and knowledge sharing in accordance with both countries’ laws and international treaties.

Aside from nuclear projects, ROSATOM had been exploring other non-power potential projects in the country.

“We will continue exploring areas of cooperation with the Philippine government as well as with local businesses, from the exchange of knowledge to the development of projects,” Simonov said.