Gov’t should priotize safety of nuclear energy—Gatchalian

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Monday, November 20 urged the Marcos administration to ensure safety in the potential use of nuclear energy. 


Gatchalian made the call after the Philippines and the United States signed a landmark deal that would allow Washington to export nuclear technology and equipment directly to the country for peaceful uses. 


The so-called “123 Agreement” was signed last Friday, November 17, with Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla signing the Agreement for Cooperation Concerning Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy in behalf of the Philippines, as chairman of the Philippine Nuclear Energy Program Inter-Agency Committee. 


This latest move shows the country taking a step closer towards the development of its own clean energy. 


“The government has to ensure safety in the use of nuclear energy as a means of generating electricity,” Gatchalian said in a statement.


“Safety should be paramount and there needs to be a nuclear law in the country to ensure the safe and secure use of nuclear energy,” he stressed.


“Public confidence in the use of nuclear energy needs to improve dramatically and ensuring safety and transparency is the only way to achieve significant development of nuclear energy in the country,” the senator emphasized. 


Gatchalian earlier filed a resolution to inquiring on the activities, outputs, and accomplishments of the Nuclear Energy Program Inter-Agency Committee and its recommendation for the country to embark on a nuclear power program.


According to the lawmaker, it is essential for the government to also ensure adherence to international standards when it comes to nuclear energy.


In March last year, the government adopted a national position and formally relaunched its bid to include nuclear power in the country’s energy mix. The move, however, generated mix reactions from the public.


As of now, the Department of Energy (DOE) is working on 19 infrastructure issues relating to the adoption of nuclear energy in line with the Milestones Approach of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which promotes the safe management of spent fuel and radioactive waste generated by the use of nuclear technologies, including nuclear power. 


Based on this, the IAEA safety standards provide the fundamental principles, requirements, and recommendations to ensure nuclear safety.


However, the Philippine government has yet to ratify the Convention on Nuclear Safety, the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management, and the Amendment to the Convention on Physical Protection of Nuclear Material.