A measure seeking to create the Philippine Atomic Energy Regulatory Authority (PhilATOM) hurdled second reading approval at the House of Representatives.
During Wednesday’s plenary session, the chamber approved through voice voting House Bill 9293, or the proposed Philippine National Nuclear Energy Safety Act, which provides for a comprehensive legal framework for nuclear safety, security and safeguards in the peaceful utilization of nuclear energy in the country.
Under the bill, the PhilATOM shall have the sole and exclusive jurisdiction to exercise regulatory control for the peaceful, safe and secure uses of nuclear energy and radiation sources in the Philippines.
Special Committee on Nuclear Energy Chairperson and Pangasinan Rep. Mark Cojuangco said the measure would ensure that the country complies with the international obligations pertaining to the utilization of nuclear energy, as recommended by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Cojuangco said the establishment of an independent regulatory body is necessary so that regulatory judgments can be made and enforcement actions taken without pressure from interests that may conflict with safety.
“It is therefore imperative for the state to subscribe to the safety standards imposed by the IAEA being a State member, to ensure the protection of the people and the environment, both now and in the future,” he said.
“The need for a separate organization, whose sole concern would be nuclear safety, security, and safeguards, separate from the promotional, political and economic influences, becomes apparent,” he added.
He said HB 9293, once enacted into law, will help facilitate the country’s economic development, as well as the proper utilization of nuclear energy, resulting in cost-effective, dependable, and clean electricity.
The proposed PhilATOM will assume all regulatory tasks currently held by the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute.
A radioactive waste management fund shall also be established for the final disposition of spent nuclear fuel, as well as a decommissioning fund as a condition of an authorization to operate a nuclear power plant, both to be held in trust by the Development Bank of the Philippines. (PNA)