Happy Nuke Year!

December 30, 2018

The New Year requires a new outlook.

The hard reality is that we are stuck between imported, traditional, dirty, finite, and therefore, unstable supply and cost of fossil fuels like crude oil and coal on one hand and the availability of local, indigenous, renewable but seasonal alternative energy sources like hydro, solar, geo-thermal, and wind.

There has to be another or third option that bridges the gap between the two main groups of energy/power sources.

One such option is nuclear energy whose only downside is the potential threat of leakage of radioactive materials or wastes or, worse, the ultimate danger of a nuclear explosion.

The Fukushima incident following the monster tsunami that struck North Eastern Japan almost a decade ago and the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in the former Soviet Union in the late 80s come to mind.

But left in the hands of experts and professionals, nuclear energy can be a stable, reliable, and affordable source of power to fuel economic growth and national development.

Are we ready to embrace this nontraditional but generally feared energy source?

Filipinos would likely upgrade their outlook on nuclear concerns shortly. Before its Christmas break, the House of Representatives approved on second reading HB 8733, also known as the “Comprehensive Nuclear Regulation Act,” which seeks to establish a comprehensive nuclear regulatory framework and create the Philippine Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda, the bill’s principal author, said PNRC would be a single, independent nuclear regulatory body focused on the control of peaceful uses and application of nuclear energy, as the country embarks on a renewed effort to strengthen science and technology and boost industrial growth. House Speaker Gloria Arroyo is among the bill’s proponents.

To be attached to the Department of Science and Technology, PNRC would be tasked to harmonize the country's nuclear regulatory structure with other countries, especially in the Asia-Pacific region, such as China, South Korea, Japan, Australia, and Singapore, among others.

Salceda said the measure aims to harness the peaceful and beneficial uses of nuclear energy in agriculture, health and medicine, energy production, scientific research, industry, and education; recognize the potentially harmful effects of ionizing radiation; protect society and the environment; establish a legal and regulatory framework for the regulation and control of the peaceful uses of nuclear resources; manage radioactive waste; and establish a legal and regulatory framework to prevent, detect, and respond to unauthorized activities involving nuclear materials.