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Head of nuclear research agency calls for single regulator to oversee industry

PHILSTAR

NUCLEAR INDUSTRY regulation must be entrusted to a single agency if the Philippines is to be in line with international best practices, the head of the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI) said Monday.

Dr. Carlo A. Arcilla, director of the PNRI, noted that nuclear activities are currently regulated by the Department of Science and Technology through its nuclear research institute and the Department of Health through its Food and Drug Administration.

He added that the PNRI also currently acts as a promotional body for the industry.

“So medyo magulo ng konti ‘yung (sa) regulation. So (we suggest) pag-iisahin iyan… if we follow other countries among our neighbors in the Asian, ASEAN region, ‘yung regulatory agency at tsaka ‘yung promotional agency are separated (Regulation is a bit unclear. We suggest a single regulator to be in line with ASEAN practice. We also need to separate the industry promotion functions),” he said during a virtual briefing.

He said the regulator’s independence is vital in order to minimize the risk of nuclear accidents.

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“Nuclear regulation is unique because it deals with materials that have immense energy concentration in a small amount. A nuclear accident anywhere is considered a nuclear accident everywhere. One way you can prevent accidents is to have strong regulation that (is) independent,” Mr. Arcilla said, noting the risks posed by political interference in highly technical decisions by politicians or powerful interests.

Mr. Arcilla was discussing the proposed Comprehensive Nuclear Regulation Act, which has been approved at committee level at the House of Representatives.

The bill takes in his recommendations of a single independent regulator.

The PNRI is a member of the Nuclear Energy Program Inter-Agency Committee, which is tasked to conduct a study on the adoption of a national policy on a Nuclear Energy Program.

Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi has said that the committee will be submitting its recommendations to President Rodrigo R. Duterte by Dec. 15. — Angelica Y. Yang

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