By Myrna M. Velasco
Although it is coming at a very slow pace, the Department of Energy (DOE) indicated that it is now cementing next the legislative pathway for the integration of nuclear power as part of the country’s future energy mix.
In the recent Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INIR) of the DOE’s Nuclear Energy Programme Implementing Organization (NEPIO) with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the department indicated that it “completed several studies and a draft legislation addressing nuclear safety, security and standards.”
The proposed legislative measure on nuclear power development shall address “the establishment of an independent regulatory body” that will then set out the rules, standards and mechanisms for the rollout of such technology in the energy mix.
The propounded Congressional measure, according to the energy department, shall be subject to wider public consultation proceedings before they could advance into the maze of lawmaking.
Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi said his department is dedicating two years just on the conduct of feasibility studies on the deployment and revival of nuclear power development agenda in the Philippines – and from 2016, the DOE is now at its culminating phase of the targeted work plan. The results of such studies, the energy chief said, “will help us focus our efforts on the identified issues, accelerate the legislative process and prepare the national decision.”
For the nuclear power track of the Philippines, IAEA head for Nuclear Infrastructure Development Section Milko Kovachev noted that the NEPIO “followed a systematic approach in finalizing the country’s nuclear power strategy and completing the associated infrastructure development.”
On the country’s renewed plunge into nuclear power, it first looked at a two-pronged approach: First had been the targeted re-powering of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (although that proved to be a difficult shot); and the other is aligning the installation of a new nuclear power facility to become part of the future energy mix.
Cusi nevertheless admitted to media in several occasions that ‘public acceptance’ of nuclear power as a technology option, is a very tough proposition – with many communities bent on having that “not-in-my-backyard” disposition.
Beyond those concerns, the country is also lacking in expertise on nuclear power operations as the personnel and experts deployed in the BNPP then are now mostly retired or had gone overseas for employments.