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DND backs nuclear power push

Kristina Maralit

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Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana yesterday said he sees no threat to the country’s security should the proposed revival of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) pushes through as part of government’s move to explore nuclear option to address the growing demand for power.

On Thursday, the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI) urged President Rodrigo Duterte to revive the mothballed BNPP, declaring it a safe and a good source of cheaper electricity.

“I don’t see any problem since it will be just be revived to generate electricity,” Lorenzana said at a news conference Friday in Malacañang, noting the country has no means to develop its own nuclear bomb.

In fact, Lorenzana said should the “still in good condition” BNPP be utilized, as proposed by the PNRI, it would be beneficial to the public.

“According to some experts that I’ve talked with, that (BNPP) can still be revived to produce electricity. And if they could do that, I think it will be good for our people. I believe it could produce around 2000 megawatts of electricity,” he said.

“If we will revive it, provided we won’t have to spend a lot, I think it will be good for us,” Lorenzana added.

The BNPP power plant in Morong, Bataan was built in 1976 under the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos and meant to address the oil crisis the Philippines was facing around that time.

Construction was almost completed in 1984 by Westinghouse Electric but the project was shelved after Marcos was overthrown from power.

Earlier, the Department of Energy and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had conducted the Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INRI) Mission at the Shangri-La Makati hotel as part of the activities of the Nuclear Energy Programme Implementing Organization (NEPIO).

“In the spirit of technology neutrality, I decided to reignite the discourse on nuclear power despite its being taboo,” Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said.

Cusi assured the public the government will continue to apply a calculated and scientific approach in evaluating the feasibility of nuclear energy for power generation and ensure that the nuclear policy of the country will be comprehensive and sound, especially in terms of safety.

“We need to make the Philippines energy secure and equitable in the midst of ever-growing demand. We need to generate inclusive and sustainable economic development and make the country globally competitive.”

Last 19 December, Cusi announced the NEPIO had ironed out several issues with the country’s vision of nuclear energy as verified by the IAEA-INIR mission.

According to IAEA’s Nuclear Infrastructure Development Section head Milko Kovachev, the NEPIO followed a systematic approach in finalizing the country’s nuclear power strategy and completing the associated infrastructure development.

The INIR team noted that the NEPIO hadcompleted several studies and draft legislation addressing nuclear safety, security and safeguards.

The recommendations of the INIR team included involving a broader range of stakeholders to complete the work required to enable a national commitment to introduce nuclear power and developing a legal and regulatory framework that ensures and demonstrates a commitment to safety, security and non-proliferation.

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