Gatchalian urges caution on PH nuclear energy program study

Published July 30, 2020, 2:46 PM

by Hannah Torregoza 

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian urged the Energy and Science and Technology departments on Thursday to proceed with caution on President Duterte’s orders to conduct a government study of a nuclear energy program for the Philippines.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian (MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Gatchalian made the call following Duterte’s signing of Executive Order No. 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)” on Wednesday.

“Transparency should be the guiding post from day one on the conduct of the study for the possible adoption of nuclear power in our energy mix. Nuclear power is a very risky business,” Gatchalian said.

Gatchalian, head of the Senate Committee on Energy, had earlier rejected proposals to revive the $2-billion Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP), the country’s first and only nuclear power station, over safety issues.

Under Duterte’s orders, the NEP-IAC is 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.”

Gatchalian said the Department of Energy (DoE) and the Department of Science and Technology (DoST) should make sure that the public is also well-informed of the outcome of its study to ensure transparency.

“The world is always in constant debate on the adoption of nuclear power because of its inherent risk to public welfare,” he said.

“Moreover, it is an energy source that is very complicated and demands high-level knowledge to fully maximize its utilization without sacrificing public safety.”

Gatchalian said it is imperative that the conduct of the study should proceed with utmost transparency to the public in every step of the way.

“The public should be well-informed on the inherent risk and the potential of nuclear power. Only an open and free discussion of this technology will deepen the comprehension of the public,” he stressed.