Local expertise to build, operate nuke plant assured

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Ranier Allan Ronda – The Philippine Star

March 7, 2022 | 12:00am

Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (DOST-PNRI) director Carlo Arcilla bewailed statements made mostly by politicians who oppose tapping nuclear power to provide clean and value-priced electricity in the country by questioning the presence of technical expertise for the operation and maintenance of a nuclear power plant.

STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — There are local as well as foreign-based Filipino engineering experts who can be tapped to run nuclear power plants in the Philippines, according to the country’s nuclear science chief.

Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (DOST-PNRI) director Carlo Arcilla bewailed statements made mostly by politicians who oppose tapping nuclear power to provide clean and value-priced electricity in the country by questioning the presence of technical expertise for the operation and maintenance of a nuclear power plant.

“To me, it is an insult to hear that we can’t run a nuclear power plant,” Arcilla told “The Chiefs” aired on One News in a recent virtual interview.

“Our engineers are fantastic. Our problem is our politicians. They are a disaster,” he added.

An airplane is more complicated than a nuclear power plant, according to the geologist.

“Who operates our planes here? They’re Filipino engineers,”  he said.

Arcilla noted that a South Korean firm tapped by the United Arab Emirates to build three brand-new nuclear power plants employed many Filipino engineers in the project.

“South Korea built three brand-new nuclear power plants in the UAE, an oil rich country. Many Filipino engineers were involved there,” he said.

Arcilla also expressed deep conviction for the need to tap nuclear power plants in the country, including activating the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) despite numerous criticisms on perceived – and what he has consistently said were baseless – fears on the risks of operating nuclear power plants.

He said that the BNPP had three “sisters” that were built by the same contractor in the 1980s: one in South Korea, one in Slovenia and one in Brazil.

“They were built around the same time as the BNPP. They have been running for 40 years,” Arcilla said. “These three plants have been operated safely and profitably.”

In six years, South Korea recovered its investment on its first nuclear plant, according to the DOST-PNRI official.

Arcilla said out that South Korea now has 23 nuclear power plants.

“Their power rates are half of ours,” he stressed. “And South Korea, less than 10 years ago, offered to rehabilitate the BNPP at the cost of $1 billion, which is the cost of a coal plant for the same output (620 megawatts).”

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