IAEA team completes Philippines infrastructure review

17 December 2018

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) today concluded an Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INIR) in the Philippines at the request of the country's government.

Energy Secretary Cusi addresses the opening of the INIR mission (Image: Philippines Department of Energy)

The INIR team included experts from Algeria, Morocco, Spain and the UK as well as IAEA staff. It reviewed the status of nuclear development using the Phase 1 criteria of the IAEA's Milestones Approach, a phased comprehensive method to assist countries that are considering or planning their first nuclear power plant to follow a sound development process for a nuclear power programme. The end of Phase 1 marks the readiness of a country to make a "knowledgeable commitment" to a nuclear power programme.
The INIR team noted that its host, the Philippines' Nuclear Energy Programme Implementation Organisation (NEPIO), has already completed several studies. Draft legislation on nuclear safety, security and safeguards, as well as the establishment of an independent nuclear regulatory body, is being considered by the country's Congress. The team also noted that the country recognises the importance of open and transparent public communication, and recommended including a broader range of stakeholders in preparations for the introduction of nuclear power.
Other recommendations made by the INIR team included the development of a legal and regulatory framework that ensures and demonstrates a commitment to safety, security and non-proliferation; further enhancing approaches to human resource and leadership development; and adapting existing national emergency preparedness frameworks in light of a future nuclear power project.
Milko Kovachev, head of the IAEA's Nuclear Infrastructure Development Section and leader of the INIR mission, said the Philippines was "eager to engage openly" with his team.

"It is evident that the Philippines is following a systematic approach to finalise its nuclear power strategy and complete the associated infrastructure development," he said.
At the start of the INIR mission on 10 December, Philippines Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi expressed concern that the country is trailing behind in terms of energy security and energy equity. The Philippines's Department of Energy is "openly considering" the feasibility of introducing nuclear power as a means of addressing this. This would improve the country's standing in the World Energy Council's Energy Trilemma Index - which ranks countries' energy performance on three dimensions of energy security, energy equity, and environmental sustainability - where it currently stands 74th out of 125 countries.
At the conclusion of the mission, Cusi affirmed the government's commitment to implementing the team's recommendations as it takes its next steps in considering the development of a nuclear power programme.
"Our technical working groups have worked hard over the last 24 months preparing the initial studies," he said. "The results from the INIR mission will help us focus our efforts on the identified gaps, accelerate the legislative process and prepare the national decision. It is high time we put the framework in place to bring nuclear power into the energy mix. We should learn the lessons from the past and catch up with the missed opportunities."

Researched and written by World Nuclear News