Philippines unprepared for nuclear energy: Senate energy panel chair

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 06 2019 01:43 PM

The Bataan Nuclear Power Plant in Bagac is surrounded by wide roads and an elevated landscape to reduce the risk of accidents. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/file

MANILA - The Philippines is "not ready" to use nuclear power as an energy source, a senator said Wednesday, adding more should be done to prepare for potential risks.

The Department of Energy announced recently its plan to draft a national nuclear program, which the Senate Energy Committee, chaired by Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, will investigate.

"Saan natin itatapon ang nuclear waste? Pag may leakage ano ang gagawin natin? Meron ba tayong capability? Handa ba tayo in case of a nuclear leak?" he told reporters.

(Where will we dump nuclear waste? What will we do in case of a leak? Do we have the capability? Are we ready in case of a nuclear leak?)

The DOE should be more transparent about the benefits of harnessing nuclear power before it drafts a nationwide plan. Coal and solar are cheaper alternatives, he said.

"Nuclear energy is a very controversial source of energy dahil ang risk ay napakataas (because the risk is very high)," he said.

The government is eyeing the deployment of modular nuclear plants to some islands where electricity supply is low, Energy Sec. Alfonso Cusi earlier said.

The Philippines also signed a memorandum with Russia’s state-owned Rosatom for a pre-feasibility study for nuclear power plants.

President Rodrigo Duterte "wants to learn more" about nuclear power, which could lower electricity prices and stabilize supply, Cusi said.

"We are hungry for power and we will tap any sources that would satisfy our own needs now," he said.