Nuclear power is dangerous says energy czar


LINGAYEN, Pangasinan  – “Nuclear energy is relatively safe. Pero isang aksidente kalang, hindi ka na makakabawi.”

This was stressed by Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla when asked by media on his personal views on a former solon’s proposal to put up a nuclear power plant in Pangasinan during a recent press conference held at the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) Conference Room.

Admitting that human error has been a big threat in the operation of a nuclear energy resource, the energy secretary noted that at present, the country doesn’t have a regulatory body for a nuclear power plant, but a House Bill has been pending in Congress.

“Coal-fired power plant pa nga lang eh pinagrarallyhan na, nuclear power plant pa kaya?” Petilla said as he pointed out that people must be consulted properly on this crucial matter.

“Even if I say yes, but if the governor, a mayor, a barangay captain, a group of indigenous people (IP) living in the area, and the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will oppose it, then the construction of a nuclear power plant will sail on rough waters,” Petilla said.

Aside from a referendum, another way of seeking consent for its operation is to ask for the Senate, the Congress and the President to look into it, Petilla said.

“But I doubt, baka kay President Aquino pa lang eh sasabit na,” he added.

The energy secretary, who said that putting up a nuclear powerplant has been a ‘passion’ of former Cong. Cojuangco, stressed that the former solon will probably go via referendum to seek support for construction of a nuclear power plant in the province.

Petilla disclosed, however, that only 30-centavo will be deducted from the power rates with the operation of a nuclear power plant. “For a Php1.50 deduction, we will be needing five nuclear power plants,” he explained.

The energy secretary, who welcomes the use of alternative energy resources, said that the country cannot just rely on one type of energy resource. “We need to have a good mix to include renewable energy resource like solar energy,” he said.

When asked what spared Luzon from energy shortage or prevalent rotating power interruptions during summer time, Petilla said that he had asked power plant operators to conduct their maintenance operations in succeeding months after summer to help ease energy crisis.

The occurrence of fair to moderate rainfall this summer, he noted, had also caused the weather condition to cool down which made people consume less electricity.

Petilla, a three-term Governor of Leyte province (2004-2013) led the switch-on ceremony for Sitio Electrification Program (SEP) of the national government which coincided with the cooperative’s Annual General Membership Assembly held at the Narciso Ramos Sports and Civic Center (NRSCC) Gym on May 30.

SEP benefits thousands of residents in 401 sitios in 15 areas (14 towns and 1 city) covered by Central Pangasinan Electric Cooperative (CENPELCO).

Dexter A. See