MANILA, Philippines — The environmentalist organization Greenpeace has asked Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla to abandon his department’s plans to revive the use of nuclear energy in the Philippines.
The group said it was shocked at the Department of Energy’s recent proposal to revive the use of nuclear energy to power the country as “this plan goes against global trends as far as safety is concerned.”
“Worldwide, the nuclear industry is declining having failed to establish itself as a clean, cheap, safe or reliable energy source. The DOE’s new proposal to implement a national nuclear power program in the energy reform agenda is utter madness,” said Anna Abad, climate and energy campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia.
“Nuclear energy cannot be good for the country as Secretary Petilla claims, because nuclear power is neither safe nor clean. No amount of technological sophistication or safety culture can prepare any country or its people to the inherent dangers of nuclear energy,” she said in a statement.
President Benigno Aquino III has publicly declared that he is against the revival of the controversial Bataan Nuclear Power Plant. Petilla, however, said his department was already looking into nuclear projects to attract local and foreign investors.
No nuclear proposals are currently tabled in Congress, although the Philippine Energy Plan still contains provisions for nuclear energy. The Energy Reform Agenda directs the DOE to conduct research and studies in aid of legislative and executive action for the operation of a 2,000-megawatt nuclear power plant by 2025.
“It may seem a cheaper alternative, but nuclear energy pays a human price. Just look at what happened in Ukraine, and very recently in Japan. Has Secretary Petilla completely forgotten about the Fukushima tragedy, the world’s worst human-made disaster to date?” Abad said.
“His short sighted plan to put profit above people’s safety could put millions at risk. If a nuclear disaster cannot be prevented from happening in rich, technologically advanced nations like Japan, then what might happen in our county?” she added.
The Aquino administration, according to Greenpeace, has wasted several years pushing for dirty sources of energy such as coal and nuclear.
“The government must ensure sustainable development with a future powered by clean and safe renewable energy, rather than dangerous nuclear, or dirty coal power,” it said.
Greenpeace is advocating an “energy revolution,” which it describes as a “sustainable pathway for renewable energy, coupled with energy efficiency technologies, to become country’s energy backbone.”
The group is also calling on the Philippine government to commit to fully implement the Renewable Energy Law to achieve 50 percent renewable energy in the country’s energy mix by 2020.