Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte, who won the presidential election in May, has approved plans to consider reactivating the mothballed Bataan NPP after initially rejecting the use of nuclear energy, according to energy secretary Alfonso Cusi. The Bataan NPP, some 100km northwest of Manila, is a single unit Westinghouse pressurised water reactor completed over 20 years ago but was never fuelled or commissioned. Work on the unit stopped in 1985 in face of contractual disputes between the Philippine government and Westinghouse and public concerns over its safety. In 2008 the International Atomic Energy Agency sent a team of experts to the Bataan plant to evaluate the state of the unit.
Cusi told reporters that Duterte had instructed him to pay special attention to safety and security and wanted extra precautions put in place for ensuring the safe use of nuclear fuel, as well as security measures established in the case of “force majeure” emergencies such as natural disasters. In a policy statement, energy undersecretary Donato Marcos said the Duterte administration “puts premium on the provision of quality, reliable, adequate, secure and reasonably priced energy by looking at all possible resources that the county can utilise to achieve its industrialisation goals.” The statement said: “We stand behind the President’s pronouncements on ensuring the safer utilization of all energy sources, especially with the renewed interest on nuclear energy as possible option for the Philippines.”