Caution On Nuke Option

Monday, April 16, 2012 03:08 AM    Views : 880by:GENALYN D. KABILING

Aquino Wary About Nuclear Energy For Mindanao

President Benigno S. Aquino III is wary about tapping nuclear power to ease Mindanao's energy shortage, but is willing to give the proposal a second look.

The President said the government will study thoroughly the proposal to develop nuclear power because of concerns that the country may not be able to deal with safety risks.

At a press conference in Malacanang yesterday, the President pointed out that there are other energy sources with "less potential negative impact" that can be tapped for now.

Building a nuclear plant in Mindanao was among the options presented by stakeholders at a summit last Friday in Davao City.

"The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has an ongoing study (on nuclear energy use). But I'm concerned that when you had the Japanese who had their tragedy in Fukushima, you have the Germans rethinking about utilizing nuclear energy, and when we look at how meticulous and studious they are in following all of the rules and regulations to ensure safety, and we are not as meticulous and studious, we really have to study the matter very, very well," Aquino said.

Last year, three of the six reactors of the nuclear plant in Fukushima, Japan, had a meltdown after its backup generators were damaged by a tsunami triggered by a magnitude 9 earthquake. Radioactive materials were released into the atmosphere, forcing the evacuation of thousands of residents.

In expressing his misgivings about nuclear energy, Aquino said Japan had difficulty addressing the nuclear incident in Fukushima despite its "technical prowess." "So we, as nascent, can we say that we can do better than them right off the bat?" Aquino said.

On the proposal of former Pangasinan Rep. Mark Cojuangco to install small modular reactors in small communities, Aquino said: "Then we will study it again but there are other sources of energy that have less impact or potential negative impact that are available to us."
Cojuangco earlier proposed the establishment of a nuclear plant in Mindanao to help ease the power shortage. The former lawmaker claimed that nuclear power was a cheaper alternative energy to ensure long-term stability of power supply.

The Philippines' only nuclear facility, the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant, was completed in 1984, but it was never put to use.
The country took 32 years to pay the $2.2-billion debt it amassed in building the plant and the interest it incurred.

In 2008, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) sent a team to the Philippines to advise the government on the practicalities of reviving the Bataan plant.

At that time, the oil price in the world market breached the $100 a barrel mark, prompting Philippine authorities to seriously consider reopening the Bataan facility.

The IAEA team recommended that the plant's technical status be thoroughly evaluated by a group of nuclear power experts and that requirements to start up the plant focus on the proper implementation of safety standards.

In the same year, a measure was introduced in the House of Representatives to rehabilitate the plant.

The bill has been submitted for second referral to the House Committee on Appropriations.


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