By John Ezekiel J. Hirro

President Rodrigo Duterte has formed an interagency committee to assess the viability of introducing nuclear power into the country’s energy mix.

Duterte signed Executive Order 116, which aims to adopt a national position on a nuclear energy program, on July 24.

The Nuclear Energy Program Inter-Agency Committee (NEP-IAC) will be chaired and co-chaired by the heads of the Department of Energy and Department of Science and Technology, respectively.

Members of the body include the environment, interior, finance and foreign affairs departments, the National Economic and Development Authority, the National Power Corp., the National Transmission Corp., the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute and the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology.

Aside from assessing the viability of nuclear power and formulating a national strategy, the committee will also be tasked to recommend measures to utilize existing nuclear power facilities such as the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant.

The NEP-IAC was given a six-month deadline to submit an initial report to the Office of the President. It will be required to submit a report half-yearly.

The Bataan Nuclear Power Plant, which cost more than $2 million, was the country’s only nuclear power plant. 

Completed under the Marcos regime, it was never fueled nor used due to safety concerns. After Marcos was overthrown and in the wake of the 1986 Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant disaster, the succeeding administration of President Corazon Aquino mothballed the Bataan plant.