‘Milestone’: DOST-PNRI signs MOU with Via Verde on dev’t aid for irradiation services

Published June 16, 2021, 1:54 PM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza 

The Department of Science and Technology – Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (DOST-PNRI) committed on Wednesday, June 16, to provide technical assistance to help private firm Via Verde carry out its plan to build a fully commercial irradiation facility in the country.

DOST Secretary Fortunato de la Peña (middle), PNRI Director Dr. Carlo Arcilla (2nd from left), Via Verde President Dave Ranile (2nd from right), PNRI Career Scientist Dr. Lucille Abad (extreme left) and Steven Hung of Via Verde (extreme right) during the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding on Project Development Assistance for Irradiation Services between DOST-PNRI and Via Verde, which plans to establish a commercial irradiation facility in the near future. (Photo from DOST-PNRI)

PNRI Director Dr. Carlo Arcilla and Via Verde President Dave Ranile signed the memorandum of understanding (MOU) to pave the way for the privatization of irradiation facilities which will greatly enhance agriculture and industry in the Philippines.

DOST Secretary Fortunato de la Peña witnessed the signing of the MOU on “Project Development Assistance for Irradiation Services” between DOST-PNRI and Via Verde.

The DOST-PNRI described the MOU signing as “another milestone in radiation technologies for Filipino industries.”

“Via Verde’s projected commercial facility will use gamma radiation to process agricultural products and improve their quality and competitiveness in the market, while eventually looking to expand their services to the sterilization of medical equipment, among others,” it said In a statement issued on Wednesday.

“The company is also looking forward to PNRI’s upgrading of its Cobalt-60 Multipurpose Irradiation Facility (MIF) as it intends to enter into a block-time agreement with PNRI for operating the facility.”

De la Peña had noted that Via Verde has been seeking to pioneer the safe use of gamma irradiation for lengthening shelf life of agricultural products for local and export use, and for various industrial applications.

Currently, the PNRI serves as the sole facility that has been providing irradiation services for agriculture, industrial and medical applications.

It operates the Cobalt-60 MIF, the Gammacell-220 and the Electron Beam Irradiation Facility (EBIF).

“Once completed, the upgrading of the MIF into a fully-automated facility will increase the volume of products processed, while also allowing for more flexibility in irradiating products as well as a safer environment for the facility operators,” the PNRI said.

The Institute said its Cobalt-60 MIF is first and only facility of its kind in the country established in 1989. It has been regularly used for radiation processing of thousands of tons of food, spices, medical equipment and other raw materials on a semi-commercial scale for various clients from the commercial and industrial sectors, it said.

“PNRI also operates the Electron Beam Irradiation Facility as well as smaller facilities such as the Gammacell-220 and the Ob-servo Sanguis irradiators, which are being used for several applications in industry, medicine and advanced research studies,” the PNRI said.

It cited the importance of radiation processing in decontaminating and sterilizing various products, extending their shelf-life and generally improving the quality of consumer goods both for local consumption and for exports.

“These goods do not become radioactive but can penetrate through the packaging, allowing it to clear the microbes without degrading the products,” it explained.

“DOST continues to push for the private sector to invest in the growth of the irradiation service industry in the Philippines, ensuring that science and technology-based industries will keep up with its neighboring countries.”