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Assessment of Philippines' nuclear readiness completed by year-end

MANILA, Philippines - An assessment of the country’s readiness for a nuclear program will be completed before the end of the year and will be evaluated by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to help in determining whether to move forward with nuclear energy use, a Department of Energy (DOE) official said.

The government has self-imposed compliance to the 19 issues laid down by the IAEA in going for nuclear energy, DOE Undersecretary Jesus Posadas said.

The list includes forming a national position; a wide stakeholder participation; laying down the policy of legal framework; consultation of all related industries to nuclear; creating a regulatory framework; compliance with safety requirement; ensuring security; proper waste disposal; radiation protection; emergency planning; environmental protection; financing; considerations; source of fuel; human resources; grid capability; procurement; and management of the plant.

Currently, the country is undertaking a study necessary to finalize a national position on the use of nuclear as a source of electricity, the DOE official said.

“We’re not at ground zero (in terms of nuclear development). And part of the steps we are taking, we are preparing a self assessment which will be evaluated by IAEA by December this year,” Posadas said.

The study is being undertaken by Nuclear Energy Program Implementing Organization (NEPIO) headed by DOE Undersecretary Donato Marcos.

NEPIO will work in three phases, starting with a comprehensive study on the overview of the country’s energy needs which will lead to forming a policy decision on nuclear. Phase 2 calls for the preparatory work for the construction of a nuclear power plant while Phase 3 pertains to the activities to implement the power facility.

“We took a big leap with BNPP (Bataan Nuclear Power Plant)… but when government decided not to operate it, we took a very big step back. But we do have experiences there that we can evaluate…examine where we are and determine what we need to do,” said Manuel Luis Plofino, senior department manager of the resource management service of National Power Corp. (Napocor).

The assessment, once completed and evaluated by IAEA, will be subject to a public consultation to gain wider understanding and acceptance, Posadas said.

Thorough analysis of the locality is needed before any step will be taken in deciding to put up a nuclear facility, added Harro Wittermans of the European Union Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear Risk Mitigation Centre of Excellence Initiative (EU BRN COE).

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