Cagayan, Palawan, Negros, Zamboanga Provinces Among the Suitable Locations for Nuclear Power Plants

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Among the 15 original shortlisted sites nationally, ten in Cagayan, Palawan, and Zamboanga provinces, as well as Negros Island, have been identified as suitable locations for nuclear power plants.

Racat Rapuli, Sinuangan, and Matara Point in Sta. Ana, Cagayan; Concepcion and Tagbarungis in Puerto Princesa, Palawan; Sipalay and San Carlos, Negros Occidental; Bayawan, Negros Oriental; and Piacon Point and Cauit in Siocon, Zamboanga, according to a document obtained by BusinessWorld.

The Nuclear Energy Program Inter-Agency Committee is reviewing the selection of 15 sites (NEP-IAC). Bagac, Bataan, San Juan, Batangas, Padre Burgos, Quezon, Ternate, Cavite, and General Santos City are among the others.

These locations were discovered in research dating back to the 1970s and continuing up to 1995. Their viability as candidate sites is now being evaluated.

The pandemic has delayed the updating of the list of appropriate sites, according to NEP-IAC Chairman and Spokesperson Gerardo D. Erguiza, Jr. The review procedure entails examining if the initial selection criteria are still valid.

Mr. Erguiza stated in a Laging Handa briefing two months ago that the 15 sites

“will be subjected to rigorous evaluation which will involve the inputs of experts around the world, including those from the International Atomic Energy Agency.”

Before further examination of the 15 locations, Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI) Director Carlo A. Arcilla stated that President Rodrigo R. Duterte must sign off on the NEP-recommendations IAC’s on adopting a national position on nuclear energy.

In December of last year, the committee delivered its findings to the President.

“Kung hindi pinirmahan ‘yung recommendation namin, (ni) Presidente, bale wala lahat ‘yung 15 sites. Even BNPP (Bataan Nuclear Power Plant), bale wala. (If the President does not sign our recommendation, nothing will happen with the 15 candidate sites and even the BNPP) Because the first step is the declaration of policy of the national,”

he told in an online interview in BusinessWorld.

“(The recommendation) has been on the desk of the president since December and I have been eagerly waiting for (it) to be signed. When (Mr. Duterte) signs that, it will start the nuclear ball rolling, and part of that includes the management, financing, (and) siting of nuclear projects, among others,”

he said.

He estimates that it will take years of additional research to make a final location selection.

“The number one study is stakeholder agreement. If people do not agree to it, we cannot pursue it. You cannot build a nuclear plant without the agreement of the people around it,” Mr. Arcilla said.

He has said that nuclear has the potential to address the demand for baseload power, adding that it can “back up solar and wind, even more stably than coal.”

Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi stated in a statement that nuclear energy has the potential to contribute to energy security and sustainability.

“It is high time that the feasibility of safely utilizing nuclear energy to meet our energy requirements be considered,”

he said.

According to Mr. Cusi, if the Philippines pursued nuclear power decades earlier, its socioeconomic environment would have been “extremely different” and on par with developed countries such as South Korea, which has its own national nuclear energy program.