CITING safety concerns, President Rodrigo Duterte said it is unlikely that the Philippines will adopt nuclear energy during his six-year term in office.
Duterte told reporters that while nuclear energy remains an important option in the future, the Philippines needs to undertake a study and put safeguards in place.
“Not now because we have to come up with safeguards, really, really tight safeguards, to assure that there will be no disasters,” he said.
In 1977, construction of the Philippines’ first nuclear power plant began under then dictator Ferdinand Marcos in Bataan province about 80 kilometers (50 miles) west of Manila. The plant was completed in 1985 but was never operated because of safety and bribery concerns.
In September, lawmakers and energy officials visited the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) to explore the possibility of reviving the 40-year-old abandoned nuclear plant.
However, Duterte rejected the proposal in favour of other energy alternatives.
“We have not reached the danger zone wherein we will die if there is no available energy,” the President said, as quoted by the Inquirer.
“Maybe someday, [but] not during my presidency,” he added.
Duterte said it was important to conduct a thorough study to avoid potential disasters that can turn into a public calamity.
“It has to be studied carefully by Congress and by the Filipino people. For after all, if there is a nuclear leak, we would all be affected, and it’s our country, remember that,” he added.
Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi earlier said the Philippines needs to add 1,100 megawatts (MW) per year since the country’s electricity demand is expected to reach around 30,000 MW by 2030, Sun Star Manila reported.
This means the Philippines’ demand for electricity is growing at an average annual rate of five percent until 2030 leading to nuclear generation as an option to meet the growing power needs.
The government is also looking for alternative sources to supply the nation’s energy grid.
However, Duterte conceded that the Philippines may have to resort to operating a nuclear plant in the event of a serious power shortage.
Additional reporting by the Associated Press