Solon: Misinformation preventing use of nuclear energy in PH

By Wilnard Bacelonia

February 12, 2024, 8:04 pm

<p>Bataan Nuclear Power Plant<em> (File photo)</em></p>

Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (File photo)

MANILA – Misinformation continues to shape public views on the use of nuclear energy in the country, Senator Alan Peter Cayetano said Monday.

Cayetano cited the need to change this through a proper education campaign.

During the hearing on the Philippine National Nuclear Energy Safety Act by the Senate Committee on Science and Technology chaired by Cayetano, he urged the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) to continue its efforts to make the public aware of the potential benefits that nuclear energy can provide.

"Continue to educate us not only on the need for the regulatory framework but also for the future of atomic or nuclear energy in our country," Cayetano said addressing Dr. Carlo Arcilla of DOST-PNRI.

In a presentation, Arcilla outlined the benefits of nuclear energy not only as a power source but also for medical, industrial, and agricultural purposes.

“Ang problema po talaga ng [pagsulong sa] nuclear energy ay yung fake news. Kapag sinabi kasing nuclear ang iniisip agad [ng mga tao] ay bomba (The problem in pushing for nuclear energy is fake news. Whenever nuclear is mentioned, people always think about the bomb),” he said.

The challenge now, Cayetano said, is changing the public's perception and eventually accepting nuclear energy use in the country.

The proposed Philippine Nuclear Regulation Act aims to establish the Philippine Atomic Energy Regulatory Authority (PhilATOM) as an independent body tasked with licensing facilities utilizing radioactive materials, including hospitals with radiology services, and ensuring the safe and secure utilization of nuclear energy in the country.

Cayetano clarified to the public that the goal of PhilATOM is to establish an institution with the necessary expertise to assess the use of nuclear energy in the country.

“We're not saying that we're promoting or not promoting nuclear energy. What we're saying is [we are] putting a regulatory body which can assess the safety of the use of nuclear power in the country,” he said.

It was also clarified during the hearing that PhilATOM's scope is limited to regulatory functions, with research responsibilities remaining under the DOST-PNRI.

Highlighting the urgency of establishing PhilATOM without delay to leverage its potential benefits, Cayetano pledged to expedite the bill's deliberation on the Senate plenary.

Being proposed to provide a comprehensive legal framework for safety, security, and safeguards in nuclear use, PhilATOM shall be a fusion of PNRI-Nuclear Regulatory Division and FDA-Center for Device Regulation and Health to streamline regulatory processes and ensure compliance with global standards. (PNA)