Stricter nuclear safety, security measures sought with creation of PH atomic regulatory commission

Published October 5, 2019, 2:58 PM

by Rica Arevalo

By Ben Rosario

Stricter nuclear safety and security measures are being sought in the House of Representatives with the creation of a single agency that will regulate activities or practices in the operation of nuclear installations and radiation facilities in the country.

The Joint Session of the Senate and the House of Representatives on the extension of Martial Law in Mindanao commences in the Plenary of the Batasang Pambansa on December 13, 2017. (ALVIN KASIBAN / MANILA BULLETIN)

In separate bills, Reps. Virgilio Lacson (Manila Teachers Parytlist) and Erico Aumentado (NPC, Bohol) proposed the creation of the Philippine Atomic Regulatory Commission (PARC) under the Department of Science and Technology.

Lacson, chairman of the House Committee on Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Development, filed House Bill 4694 that would grant the PARC authority over all aspects of safety, security ad safeguards involving nuclear materials and other radioactive material facilities and radiation generating equipment operating in the country.

It will, thus, be given the authority to inspect such facilities and transport radioactive substances and equipment.

In his bill, Lacson mandated the PARC to take charge of emergency preparedness plans that would respond to “potential nuclear or radiological emergencies” . It is also tasked to define the radiation levels that will require the evacuation of the population that could be in danger.

According to Lacson the proposed agency will see to it that the Philippines fulfills its international obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, Safeguard Agreement and other international pacts signed by the government.

Unimpeded access to facilities with control of nuclear materials will also be guaranteed to inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The legislative proposal identifies prohibited acts as the transfer, construction, receipt, possession, operation, importation and exportation of radiation facilities and nuclear installation acts without a permit from the PARC.

Both Lacson and Aumentado noted that there are two agencies that are responsible for the regulation of ionizing radiation – the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute and the Center for Device Regulation, Radiation, Health and Research of the Food and Drugs Administration.

“The PARC will constitute a “single nuclear regulatory body, with effective independence that will be tasked to provide the Philippine appropriate and effective approach to modernize and strengthen the legal framework for nuclear safety, security, and standards,” explained Aumentado, author of HB 2535.

“The main issues of regulatory independence will generate in the public higher levels of trust and confidence in the application of nuclear technologies, which is a requisite for the continued use of nuclear energy and radioactive materials in the country,” the young solon added.