Philippines Continues to Explore Nuclear Option Despite Japan Disaster, Groups Call on Gov’t to Exercise Caution

Rep. Teddy Casiño of Bayan Muna has said that the country has a wealth of alternative energy sources, from solar to wind to geothermal, and yet these sources remain largely untapped.

Casiño said that despite constant pronouncements by the government that the country should tap into alternative sources of energy, no serious and concrete steps have been undertaken to ensure the development of the national energy sector.

In the meantime, the World Wildlife Fund said the Philippines has more than enough renewable energy potential. It cites figures from the DoE and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) of the United States, showing the country’s renewable energy potential is vast, with 4,531 MW from geothermal; 13,097 MW from hydropower, 277 MBFOE from biomass; 5.0-5.1 kWh/m2/day from solar; 76,600 MW from wind and 170,000 MW from oceanic currents.

Fears of Nuclear Meltdown and Fall-out

In an attempt to allay worries regarding the effects of a possible nuclear meltdown in Japan reaching the Philippines, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said that there was nothing to worry about.

For the last two days, Facebook users have been posting warnings about how nuclear fallout could reach the country and that there is now a need for the government to implement anti-fallout and anti-radiation spill measures.

NDRRMC Executive Director Benito Ramos said the agency is prepared to launch the National Radiological Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan (RADPLAN) should any emergency arise. He said that the Radplan covers nuclear emergencies such as the one in Japan.

“The Radplan establishes an organized emergency response capability for timely, coordinated action of Philippine authorities in cases of radiological incidents or emergencies,” he explained.

Last weekend, key government officials discussed contingency plans related to the Japan nuclear crisis. According to reports, the meeting was attended by, among others, officials of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), the PNRI, Department of Health (DOH), Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), and Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs).

The DOH’s Bureau of Health Devices and Technology head Agnette Peralta said the agency is planning to procure prophylactic potassium iodide as a protection against radiation, in case radioactive materials reach the country.

In the meantime, regarding the fears that the fall-out in Japan could reach the country, Agham’s Tapang said that people should exercise sense.

“With regard to the texts that have been circulating, I think we should not panic and should instead verify first the risks involved. In this case, the risks would not be that high and it is not necessary that we should remain indoors,”he said.

The science group has also called on the government to take steps to protect Filipinos from possible effects of the explosion of Japan’s nuclear plants. Tapang said that Malacañang should press Japan for a full disclosure of the status of their nuclear plants.

“The affected communities should be protected and nearby countries such as the Philippines should also be ready in case the emissions affect our surroundings,” Tapang added.

He cited reports the reactor was already leaking radiation eight times the normal levels outside the facility and 1,000 times the normal inside Fukushima 1’s control room.

A Warning Against Rehabilitating the BNPP

Tapang said this nuclear plant accident in Japan should serve as an ample warning to the Philippine government against rushing headlong into the BNPP’s revival.

He also cited similar problems that took place in the past: in 2007, 400 drums of low-level nuclear waste were knocked down after a magnitude-6.6 earthquake erupted near Niigata, Japan. Some 40 drums were open at the time and may may have emitted traces of radioactive cobalt-60 and chromium-51 in the environment.

“There are chances of having a similar accident if the government operates the BNPP. The Philippines is vulnerable to earthquakes, and the BNPP itself is near the Manila Trench and sitting on the slopes of Mount Natib,” said Tapang. (https://www.bulatlat.com)

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