Ejercito revs up push for nuclear power; Hontiveros cries a ‘step backward’
MANILA, Philippines — Senator JV Ejercito thinks nuclear power needs a second look- but Senator Risa Hontiveros is dead set against it.
Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva, meantime, expressed reservations on the matter.
“We really need to reconsider nuclear power. We need to bring down cost of energy for our economy to be able to fully develop and at same time address the issue of climate change and global warming, which will be both addressed by shift [to] nuclear power,” Ejercito said in a statement.
He noted that “safety protocols will strictly be followed,” adding that several nations have “successful nuclear energy programs.”
In stark contrast, Hontiveros held a fiery stance.
“Insisting on nuclear energy use in the Philippines will be taking a step backward into the past, and not into a sustainable and peaceful future,” she said in a separate statement.
“Nuclear energy entails the generation of radioactive waste, which will pose a long-term and difficult problem for Filipinos. Even now, advocates of nuclear energy cannot fully answer the question of how and where we will safely store radioactive waste whose half-lives will outlive us, our children and our grandchildren,” she added.
The opposition senator railed against nuclear energy, saying it won’t guarantee the country won’t face catastrophic accidents.
She also raised that “radioactive waste and raw material for nuclear energy in the Philippines could be a target for local and foreign terror groups seeking to get their hands on radiological materials.”
Instead, Hontiveros urged the government to prioritize alternative and renewable energy sources, calling it the way of the future as these “have clear potential to take up a bigger share of our energy mix without the health, economic and environmental dangers posed by nuclear energy.”
Villanueva is concerned about the potential risks of nuclear energy, making him hesitant to consider it as an option.
“Although I am open to these discussions, I have reservations about this proposal. We are all aware that nuclear power plants contain radioactive material that is extremely harmful to humans and the environment,” he said in a separate statement.
Villanueva stresses the importance of thoroughly evaluating all prospective power plant locations and waste storage locations.
The majority leader likewise pointed out the cost of nuclear power plants.
“Lastly, we expect this investment would cost billions of dollars. How we can afford these power plants, if the investment would be cost-efficient, and how long it would take us to get a return on investment are questions that need to be answered,” he said.
Villanueva said he is more open to exploring modular types of nuclear energy as small modular reactors “could prove to be an affordable option and manageable in size and scale for the country.”
The senators’ remarks came after the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute said that the country is looking at possible nuclear deals with South Korea, France, and China.
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