Nuclear power program a no-go sans Congress OK, public acceptance—DOE
MANILA, Philippines — The creation of nuclear power plants in the country cannot push through without the approval of Congress and the acceptance of the public, the Department of Energy (DOE) said Monday.
During the House deliberation on the proposed budget of the DOE for 2021, Energy Assistant Secretary Gerardo Erguiza explained that the country is still in the early stage of its nuclear power program.
This program that the country is following, Erguiza said, is based on four cornerstones that have to be complied with, which include national policy, legislative approval, international standards, and public acceptance.
Currently, Erguiza said the Philippines is just in the national policy stage after President Rodrigo Duterte issued an executive order ordering the conduct of studies on the nuclear power program.
To recall, Duterte ordered in July the conduct of a government study on the feasibility of introducing nuclear energy to the Philippines’ power generation mix.
“Hindi tutuloy ang nuclear power program ‘pag walang participation ng Congress kaya lahat ito, dadaan din, babalik at babalik dito dahil yung standards sa nuclear ay kailangang i-approve ng Congress at kailangang isabatas,” Erguiza said.
(The nuclear power program will never take off without the participation of Congress, that is why all of these will go through, it will go back here because the standards for nuclear needed the approval of Congress and it needed to be put into law.)
Erguiza added that the country should also follow international standards, guided by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to ensure the safety and security of nuclear power plants.
Lastly, Erguiza said that there should also be public acceptance.
“Ito’y uusad ‘pag nasigurado natin na ito ay tinatanggap ng tao at ang DOE ay nag-umpisa ng isang strategic study or communication plan at ang basehan dito ay isang survey na ginawa recently kung saan about 70 percent of the people ina-accept nila ang pagpapatayo ng nuclear power plant,” said Erguiza.
(This will only push through if we assure that this is acceptable to the people and the DOE will start a strategic study or communication plan, and the basis for this is the survey that recently conducted wherein 70 percent of people accept the establishment of a nuclear power plant.)
“But this is not the end of it kasi ito’y magiging baseman lang ng comprehensive communication plan,” he added.
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.
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