Revival of mothballed nuclear plant get support

Manila: Efforts to revive the country’s first nuclear reactor was given a boost with a Senator supporting moves to revive the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP).

Senator Joseph Victor ‘JV’ Ejercito said resurrecting the BNPP would not only solve Luzon’s perennial energy shortfall and high cost of energy, but likewise pole vault the country on the road to continued development.

Ejercito said that among the limitations of the Philippine economy, aside from inadequate infrastructure, “is the high cost of energy.”

The cost of energy in the Philippines is among the highest in Southeast Asia, limiting the country’s potential for faster and further growth.

The BNPP was constructed during the administration of the late Ferdinand Marcos during the early 1980s. The country’s first ever nuclear plant, while finished, was never able to produce a single kilowatt of electrical power after a new administration under Corazon Aquino took over and questioned its safety.

Supposed experts at that time said the location of the BNPP could make it prone to a nuclear disaster.

But present expert, Renato Solidum of the Philippines Institute of Volcanology and Seismology was quoted in reports as saying that there is nothing to fear from a possible nuclear catastrophe in Bataan since BNPP’s location is far from an earthquake fault.

The Philippines had steered clear of any plans to revive the BNPP and had virtually adopted a nuclear free stance since the mid-1980s. However, under President Rodrigo Duterte, the new administration had taken on a new thinking on nuclear power.

Last November, the Philippines and Russia signed an agreement that is seen to revive Manila’s long mothballed plans to generate power from nuclear energy.

Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said the Philippines’ Department of Energy had signed last November a memorandum of cooperation with the Russian Federation State Atomic Energy Corporation (Rosatom) peaceful applications of nuclear energy.

Aside from this, Philippine lawmakers are also fine tuning the country’s law to augur with plans to give nuclear energy a bigger role in the country’s future.

The bill for the Comprehensive Nuclear Regulation Act is currently making progress in both houses of Congress. At the House of Representatives, the bill is sponsored by 30 co-authors in a consolidated substitute bill approved at a joint meeting of the House Committees on Science and Technology and Government Reorganization in November last year.

A counterpart bill for the Comprehensive Nuclear Regulations Act is currently filed in the Senate by Senator Vicente Sotto III.

Upon its enactment into law, the Comprehensive Nuclear Regulation Act will provide for the establishment of an independent nuclear regulatory body, the Philippine Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which will succeed the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Nuclear Research Institute in its mandate to regulate the safe and peaceful uses of nuclear and radioactive materials in the country.

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