Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on July 24 signed an executive order that calls for a study to determine the feasibility of introducing nuclear energy into the country’s power generation mix. Citing “the experience of a number of countries” showing nuclear power to be “a reliable, cost-competitive, and environment-friendly energy source,” the order creates the Nuclear Energy Program Inter-Agency Committee (NEP-IAC) to carry out the work.
Committee membership: The NEP-IAC will consist of representatives of various departments of the Philippine government, including a Philippine Department of Energy official who will chair the group, plus such entities as the National Power Corporation, the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute, and the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology.
Additional tasks: Duterte’s order also instructs the NEP-IAC to “evaluate and formulate a national strategy to include a road-map and timeline in the preparation of a nuclear energy program” and to “review the existing legal framework, study the viability of nuclear energy, and recommend the necessary steps in the utilization of nuclear energy, as well as existing facilities, such as but not limited to the Bataan nuclear power plant.”
The island of Luzon’s Bataan plant, announced in 1973 by President Ferdinand Marcos and essentially completed by 1985, was mothballed following the overthrow of the Marcos regime by Corazon Aquino in 1986. Aquino had made clear her opposition to the plant during her campaign, citing concerns over safety and charges of corruption. To make matters worse for supporters of the country’s only nuclear power facility, two months after Aquino’s accession, the Chernobyl accident occurred in the Soviet Ukraine.
Next: The NEP-IAC is directed to submit an initial report to the president within six months, with succeeding reports submitted every six months thereafter.