Evaluate Bataan nuke plant thoroughly, IAEA cautions RP

Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 09:22:00 07/01/2008

MANILA, Philippines — The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has cautioned the Philippines and other countries considering the revival of nuclear energy options not to let “commercial interests take precedence over safety issues.”

The IAEA, after completing a multidisciplinary and independent fact-finding and safety assessment mission to the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant, recommended further evaluations by technical experts.

According to a report on the IAEA website, the agency made two primary recommendations: “First, BNPP’s status must be thoroughly evaluated by technical inspections and economic evaluations conducted by a committed group of nuclear power experts with experience in preservation management.

“Second, the mission advised the Philippines on the general requirements for starting its nuclear power program, stressing that the proper infrastructure, safety standards and knowledge be implemented.”

“In the case of Bataan, the plant was completed over 20 years ago. Our mission visited the plant to gauge the current state of the plant, but our suggestion to the Philippines was simply on what steps they need to take and what needs to be considered to complete their own assessment,” explained Akira Omoto, director of the IAEA’s Division of Nuclear Power and leader of the mission to the Philippines.

“The government has to assess what the new licensing requirements should be, how to modernize the two-decade-old technology to current standards, and how to confirm that all aspects of the plant will function properly and safely. It is not the IAEA’s role to state whether the plant is usable or not, or how much it will cost to rehabilitate,” said Omoto. Cynthia D. Balana

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