MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte has issued an executive order directing a study for the adoption of a national position on a nuclear energy program (NEP).
Executive Order 116, signed by Duterte on July 24 but released to reporters on Wednesday (July 29), creates the Nuclear Energy Program Inter-Agency Committee (NEP-IAC) to be chaired by the Secretary of the Department of Energy (DOE) with the Secretary of the Department of Science and Technology as vice chair.
Members of the NEP-IAC will be composed of representatives from the Departments of Environment and Natural Resources, Interior and Local Government, Finance, Foreign Affairs, National Economic and Development Authority, National Power Corporation, National Transmission Corporation, Philippine Nuclear Research Institute and Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology.
“There is an imperative need to revisit the country’s policy on nuclear energy and to determine its feasibility as a long term option for power generation,” the EO read.
Under the EO, the NEP-IAC will be in charge of conducting a pre-feasibility study to evaluate and assess the need for and viability of introducing nuclear power into the state’s energy mix, taking into consideration economic, security and environmental implications, and engagement of the public and relevant stakeholders.
The NEP-IAC will also evaluate and formulate a national strategy to include a roadmap and timeline in the preparation of a NEP, as well as measures to address infrastructure gaps and issues and make appropriate recommendations.
It will also 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 Bataan Nuclear Power Plant is the country’s first and only nuclear power plant built during the term of former President Ferdinand Marcos. However, it never became operational due to alleged safety concerns and corruption issues.
Moreover, the NEP-IAC will also create subcommittees to facilitate decision-making on various issues that may arise in the course of the study; promulgate guidelines, and rules for the effective implementation of the order.
The NEP-IAC may call upon any department, agency, or instrumentality of the government for assistance in the course of the implementation of the order and request the assistance of the International Atomic Energy Agency and other international bodies to carry out its objectives, consistent with existing laws and national policies.
Within six months of effectivity of the order, the NEP-IAC must submit an initial report to the Office of the President, through the Executive Secretary. Succeeding reports must be submitted every six months.
As for funding, it will be charged against available appropriations of the DOE, and if necessary, such other appropriate funding sources as the Department of Budget and Management may identify.
To recall, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi first submitted the proposed EO to the Office of the Executive Secretary last February 20.
This EO is among the short-term and long-term outlooks for the power sector and the corrective policy issuances being undertaken by the DOE. (PNA)