By Martin Sadongdong
Representatives from various nuclear regulatory bodies of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are expected to attend the fourth annual ASEAN Network of Regulatory Bodies on Atomic Energy (ASEANTOM) meeting and technical session on nuclear security. The Philippines is hosting the regional meet from December 7 to 8 in Quezon City.
The Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (DOST-PNRI) said representatives from Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam would attend the annual meeting. They would discuss the current status of nuclear security in each country in the ASEAN region, which is seen to be crucial as North Korea is continuously conducting its nuclear missile tests.
The meeting would also include technical sessions discussing the role of various networks like the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Global Nuclear Safety and Security Network (GNSSN) and Asian Nuclear Safety Network (ANSN), it said.
Furthermore, delegates would discuss the strengthening of partnerships with other countries such as the United States, European Union, Canada, Australia, China, Japan and Korea, and future IAEA-supported projects on the security of radioactive sources throughout the ASEAN region, it added.
After the two-day event, the visiting representatives from ASEAN countries would participate in a technical visit to the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) on December 9.
President Duterte has since pushed for the operationalization of the mothballed power plant built under the Marcos administration.
However, experts have recommended that further studies should be made before the BNPP can be activated and be considered for possible commissioning.
Experts said that once the BNPP is operationalized, it is expected that electricity cost for consumers and commercial users would go down but other issues such as its safety and possible effect on the environment would have to be considered.
The ASEANTOM, or ASEAN Network of Regulatory Bodies on Atomic Energy, was established in 2013 to strengthen nuclear safety, security and safeguards by enhancing cooperation and complementing the work among the ASEAN countries with the existing mechanisms at the national, regional and international levels.
Relatively, the DOST-PNRI is currently celebrating the 45th Atomic Energy Week (AEW) from December 4 to 7 with the theme “Nuclear Science and Technology for the People.”