By Ben Rosario
The House of Representatives has approved on third and final reading a bill that provides for a comprehensive regulatory framework in harnessing the peaceful uses of nuclear energy for vital benefits in health and medicine, energy production, scientific research, agriculture industry, and education.
With 206 affirmative votes and no negative votes, House bill 8733 or the proposed Comprehensive Nuclear Regulation Act was unanimously approved on final reading.
Consolidating eight related administrative proposals, HB 8733 provides for the creation of the Philippine Nuclear Regulatory Commission as an independent central nuclear regulatory body.
Principal authors include Reps. Maximo Rodriguez (PDP-Laban, Cagayan de Oro City); Gary Alejano (Magdalo Partylist); Erico Aristotle Aumentado (NUP, Bohol); and Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (PDP-Laban, Pampanga).
The PNRC is tasked to implement provisions of the law and exercise authority over all aspects of safety, security, and safeguards involving nuclear materials and other radioactive materials, facilities, and radiation generation equipment.
The bill declares as a policy of the state to recognize to recognize the potential harmful effects of ionizing radiation resulting from improper use, accidents or malicious acts.
The PNRC is tasked to create a regulatory system for the formulation and adoption of regulations and guidelines on the use of ionizing radiation.
The proposed agency is also mandated to establish applicable safety and security requirements and regulations for the protection of people and the environment from adverse impacts of radioactive waste and spent fuel management activities.
PNRC shall issue regulations to implement effective measures to prevent, detect and respond to unauthorized acts involving nuclear and other radioactive material that may cause injury to person property or the environment or otherwise jeopardize national security
Under the bill, the PNRC will also safeguard and ensure the unimpeded access by designated International Atomic Energy Agency or its duly authorized representatives in the Philippines.
The existing Philippine Nuclear Research Institute shall continue with its mandate to foster nuclear research and development including nuclear safety research.
The bill mandates the PNRC to charge and collect reasonable fees in the performance of its regulatory functions. These shall be deposited with the Bureau of Treasury as income of the general fund.
A Nuclear Waste Management Fund will be charged from a portion of the payment of the electricity generated from the nuclear energy. The Fund shall be exclusively used for the safe disposal of nuclear waste, which shall include site research, transport, and final geological disposal.
The Department of National Defense and other law enforcement agencies are authorized to conduct inspection of facilities as part of national security efforts but with the participation of PNRC agents.
Violators of regulations imposed by the PNRC and provisions of the measure face imprisonment of up to five years and a fine of P1 million to P5 million or both. (Ben R. Rosario)