Duterte orders study on inclusion of nuclear energy to PH’s power mix
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the conduct of a government study on the feasibility of introducing nuclear energy to the Philippines’ power generation mix.
Duterte issued Executive Order (EO) 116, creating the Nuclear Energy Program Inter-Agency Committee (NEP-IAC) to conduct a study “for the adoption of a National Position on a Nuclear Energy Program (NEP).”
The committee will be headed by the Department of Energy while the Department of Science of Technology will serve as its co-chair.
The committee members are the Departments of Environment and Natural Resources, Interior and Local Government, Finance, and Foreign Affairs, as well as the National Economic Development Authority, National Power Corporation, National Transmission Corporation, Philippine Nuclear Research Institute and the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology.
The NEP-IAC will be mandated to “conduct a pre-feasibility study to evaluate and assess the need for and viability of introducing nuclear power into the State’s energy mix, taking into consideration economic, security and environmental implications, and engagement of the public and relevant stakeholders.”
It will also formulate a national strategy to include a roadmap and timeline in the preparation of a NEP, as well as measures to address infrastructure gaps and issues.
The committee is likewise tasked to “review the existing legal framework, study the viability of nuclear energy and recommend the necessary steps in the utilization of nuclear energy, as well existing facilities such as but not limited to the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant.”
The committee is required to submit a report to Duterte within six months.
The $2-billion Bataan Nuclear Power Plant is the country’s first and only nuclear power station. It was built during the term of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the height of the 1973 oil crisis. It never became operational due to allegations of corruption and safety issues.
The Philippines recently signed a memorandum with Russia’s state nuclear company to look into the feasibility of buying into its newly launched “floating nuclear power plant” technology.
The memo was signed by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi and Evgeny Pakermanov of Rusatom Overseas during Duterte’s visit to Moscow last October 2019.
But days after the signing of the agreement, Duterte conceded that the deal may not be constitutional after all.
The Constitution does not ban the use of nuclear energy, but it “pursues a policy of freedom from nuclear weapons in its territory.”
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