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Gatchalian asks DOE to be more transparent on gov’t plan for use of nuclear power in PH

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By Hannah Torregoza

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian has pressed the Department of Energy (DOE) to publicly release its report on the integrated work plan for nuclear power infrastructure in the country.

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian (Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN)

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian
(Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN)

Gatchalian, chair of the Senate Committee on Energy, said the DOE should release its report while it was still waiting for Malacañang’s reply on its submitted nuclear policy.

The senator explained that ordinary Filipinos will never understand the reason behind these nuclear talks if the government will continue to keep them in the dark when it comes to the Philippine nuclear plan.

“The more the public is informed about the government’s nuclear plan, the more comfortable they become,” Gatchalian said in a statement.

“By being transparent, we are telling the Filipinos that the government is serious and committed in discussing and investigating whether nuclear power might be part of the country’s future energy policy,” he stressed.

Last year, the government concluded a week-long discussion with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) which gave its Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INIR) on introducing a safe, secure, and sustainable national nuclear program.

Earlier, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi called for the creation of Nuclear Energy Program Implementing Organization (NEPIO) to comply with IAEA’s policy guidelines in conducting research on the feasibility of nuclear energy development.

But Gatchalian noted the DOE has yet to provide any specific details of its nuclear energy agenda, and has repeatedly called out the agency for its lack of transparency.

In October last year, Gatchalian probed the DOE’s ambiguity on its nuclear plan amid reports that the Philippines and Russia signed a deal on exploring the possible construction of a nuclear power plant in the country.

“The basic question is – is nuclear energy fit for the Philippines? Will it deliver the promises of lower electricity cost at very minimal risk?” he pointed out.

“Most importantly, what will we do with the nuclear waste in the long term?” asked Gatchalian.

Gatchalian has filed a resolution asking the Senate energy panel to conduct an inquiry on the status of the country’s nuclear energy plan.

The lawmaker pushed for the scrutiny of the country’s nuclear energy program after the Philippines and Russia signed a Memorandum of Intent during President Rodrigo Duterte’s visit to Moscow last year.

The MOI expressed the Philippine and Russian officials intent “to jointly explore the prospects of cooperation in the construction of nuclear power plants in the Philippines.”

According to reports, Russia has proposed to build a floating nuclear power plant in the Philippines.

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