By Myrna M. Velasco
The Department of Energy (DOE) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have scheduled a meeting in Vienna, Austria this mid-November to sort out targeted frameworks on the Philippines’ renewed plunge into nuclear power development.
The energy department said an integrated work plan (IWP) for the country’s nuclear power installation shall be formulated and that will be key part of the discussion in Vienna on November 12-15 this year.
The Philippine contingent will have to be led by Energy Assistant Secretary Gerardo Erguiza Jr.
“The IWP will answer all IAEA concerns should the government decide to pursue the utilization of nuclear power as a potential source of energy for the country,” the agency stressed.
The IWP comprises one of the steps in the three-phased Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INIR), as anchored on the mission report that the IAEA had submitted to Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi this week.
Essentially, the INIR mission report tackles the initial findings of the IAEA relative to the existing good practices, the improvements undertaken along with the international nuclear agency’s recommendations and suggestions as to what should be integrated into the IWP.
Cusi is a very vocal supporter of the country’s renewed plunge into nuclear power development – although the department cannot quite take off on its plan due to social acceptance concerns.
“We need to bring to the forefront, intelligent, informed and comprehensive dialogue on whether we could safely utilize nuclear power as one of the alternative sources to meet our ever-growing energy requirements,” the energy chief said.
He is not keeping it a secret that the DOE, in the past three years, had been relentlessly working with the IAEA “to find clear answers to all our longstanding questions on nuclear power, most especially its safety aspect.”
On the social acceptance domain, the DOE just recently consigned the services of the Social Weather Stations (SWS) for a perception survey that will gauge the pulse of the Filipino public on nuclear as an option in the country’s energy mix.
Preliminary indications point to a “high acceptance” rating for nuclear, but the main personality that the Filipinos have been wishing to lay the final decision on such shall be President Rodrigo Duterte.
For the Philippines, the DOE admitted that it is still at the first step of the 19 key requirements that it will need to work on for the targeted nuclear power build-up plan for the country.