WITH the signing of Executive Order (EO) No. 116, the stage is once again open for the ventilation of the “pluses and minuses” of transforming the Philippines into a nuclear-power country.
Signed by President Duterte last July 24, the order calls for the creation of a committee, which will study the possibility of tapping nuclear energy as a long-term option for power generation.
The Nuclear Energy Program-Inter-Agency Committee (NEP-IAC) will conduct a pre-feasibility study to evaluate the need for and viability of introducing nuclear power into the state’s energy mix.
Likewise, the committee will recommend the necessary steps in the utilization of nuclear energy as well as existing facilities such as, but not limited to, the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP).
Secretary Alfonso Cusi of the Department of Energy (DOE) described President Duterte’s signing of EO No. 116 “as a major step towards the realization of a Philippine nuclear energy program.”
Cusi said the nuclear energy program ought to benefit the Filipino people by enhancing our energy supply levels and help shield the country’s consumers from traditional power price volatilities.
On the other hand, Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, chair of the Senate energy committee, called for transparency in the plan to study the possibility of utilizing nuclear energy as a power source.
“The public should be well-informed on the inherent risk and the potential of nuclear power. Only an open and free discussion of this technology will deepen the comprehension of the public,” he said.
Nuclear energy is a power source that is “very complicated and demands high level of knowledge to fully maximize its utilization without sacrificing public safety,” according to Senator Gatchalian.
And the NEP-IAC should dig deeper why many people are still against the introduction of nuclear energy into the country’s energy mix despite the rising costs of electricity in the Philippines.