MANILA – The Philippines will develop a detailed plan for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on how it could launch a nuclear program, its energy chief said on Wednesday, supporting a drive for the country to utilize nuclear energy.
"We will meet with the IAEA next month to discuss further collaborative efforts," said Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi after receiving an IAEA review report on the infrastructure the country would need for a nuclear program.
"This is the beginning of a new phase of work because we must now prepare our action plan and we will present it to them, to the IAEA, and they will review us," Cusi said.
The Department of Energy has studied the use of nuclear power, a divisive issue in the Philippines due to security concerns. It has drafted an executive order, awaiting President Rodrigo Duterte's signature, outlining a national policy to support its plan.
Duterte has said that security will be his highest consideration when deciding whether the country will run nuclear energy.
Cusi said Duterte "wants to learn more" about nuclear energy.
Nuclear power is seen as a potential response to the Philippines' twin problems with uncertain supply and high electricity costs, although Cusi said other options are also being considered. [1
Supporters of Cusi's nuclear energy press say that because fuel costs are lower, electricity prices will fall. But those who oppose refer to imported uranium, high waste management and decalcification costs as well as safety issues.
If it decides to use nuclear energy, the Philippines can either build new facilities or rehabilitate its Bataan nuclear power plant, built in the 1980s, but painted after a change in the country's leadership and the devastating Chernobyl disaster.
Cusi said the government is also looking at introducing small modular nuclear power plants to some of the country's islands that are still suffering from power shortages.
The government recently signed a memorandum of understanding with the Russian state nuclear company Rosatom that included a pre-feasibility study for such plants, he said.