By Genalyn Kabiling
The nuclear power plant in Bataan, having been mothballed, the government is looking into the possible establishment of a nuclear energy facility in the province of Sulu.
Energy Undersecretary Felix William Fuentebella said Sulu province has expressed interest to host a modular nuclear power plant to provide an alternative source of energy.
“The policy of nuclear energy should be open because if Luzon does not like it, other islands may be open to it,” he said during a Palace press briefing.
“Yes, Sulu. It’s small. They are looking at a modular facility,” he said when asked about any provinces that expressed interest for nuclear energy.
If a certain province is open to tap nuclear energy, he said the next step would be finding out the structure and requirements by the international organization overseeing the nuclear energy.
Fuentebella, however, admitted that the prospect of the Sulu initiative might take long since the draft national policy on nuclear energy has not yet been approved.
The draft recommendation on whether nuclear energy will be an option for country was submitted by the Department of Energy to the Office of the President last April. It also seeks a clear answer whether to rehabilitate the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant or put a closure on the facility.
“We have submitted the same to Malacañang already, but there will be steps and it will probably – and as a former legislator, it will need amendments in the law,” Fuentebella said.
On the revival of the BNPP, Fuentebella said the options are open.
“Nonetheless if the community will not support any project within their backyard, it will not push through,” he added.
“Bataan Nuclear Power Plant is just one project. Whether we handled it correctly or not… obviously hindi, dahil binayaran natin hindi umaandar, eh bata tayo ay nandoon na iyon, hindi natin napakinabangan, ang mahal-mahal. So that was what happened, but we have to put closure to that issue, and that is what the Secretary is pushing for,” he added.
Last April, the President said he wanted to ensure that adequate security measures are in place before considering a nuclear energy program in the country.
“Let us listen first before we cock and load our guns there. Tingnan muna natin how safe. Number one is safety,” he said. “If it falls down to it, one to six, ang safety is only about three and four, forget it. I want eight to nine,” he said.
In 2016, Duterte gave his consent only to a feasibility study on the proposed revival of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP). He said any proposal to use nuclear energy must be thoroughly studied by Congress and the people. Tight safeguards must also be set in place to prevent nuclear meltdowns that harm public safety and health, he added.