President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Alfonso Cusi and former Pangasinan Rep. Mark Cojuangco to secure first the approval of residents living near the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant before they continue their plans to revive and use the mothballed facility to supply electricity in the country.

“Ang sabi po ni Presidente, pag-aralang mabuti but start from the ground. I take that to mean na kami pong mga taga-Bataan ang dapat konsultahin muna kung gusto nating buksan ang Bataan Nuclear Power Plant,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a press briefing held in Mariveles.

Built during the administration of former President Ferdinand Marcos, the country’s first and only nuclear power facility is located in Morong, Bataan, and was supposed to generate 623 megawatts of clean energy.

President Corazon Aquino mothballed the facility over corruption and safety concerns, compounded by fears after the Chernobyl nuclear fallout in Ukraine under the Soviet Union in 1986.

In 2018, the project was revisited as the Philippines looked for other sources to meet the growing power demand. Russian Ambassador Igor Khovaev, however, said that the plant was beyond revival because of its “absolutely outdated” technology.

Despite this, Duterte has expressed openness in tapping nuclear energy, issuing Executive Order 116 that created the Nuclear Energy Program Inter-Agency Committee which will study the adoption of national nuclear energy policy.

The government is also in talks with Russia for nuclear power technology, including Moscow’s idea of using floating nuclear power barges to bring electricity to island provinces.

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