Nuclear Reactor operational after 34 years, start of Nuclear-powered PH

The Philippines now has a working nuclear reactor after 34 years. This nuclear reactor though is a research reactor made possible by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST)-Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI).

It will serve as a base for research and training of nuclear engineers and scientists as well as potential nuclear power plant operators in the Philippines.

Photo from Gino Aliperio

Located in Quezon City, Philippine Research Reactor 1 – SATER (Subcritical Assembly for Training, Education, and Research) or just SATER is targeted to be fully operational by 2023.

It is truly a big step towards a nuclear-powered Philippines especially with the issuance of Executive Order 164 last Feb. 28. The EO made by the Duterte administration states the addition of nuclear energy as an energy supply source in the Philippines to address the nation’s problem of inadequate electricity supply.

Now, you might be wondering what and who is PNRI if you’ve just heard about them through this article, well quick trivia, under Executive Order 128, the PNRI is mandated to perform the following functions:

  • Conduct research and development on the application of radiation and nuclear techniques, materials and processes.
  • Undertake the transfer of research results to end-users, including technical extension and training services.
  • Operate and maintain nuclear research reactors and other radiation facilities.
  • License and regulate activities relative to production, transfer and utilization of nuclear radioactive substances.

According to the viral post in the PNRI, as of June 23, 2022, all of the 44 fuel rods have been successfully loaded to the TRIGA (Training, Research, Isotopes, General Atomics) subcritical reactor.

“SATER will support the country’s capacity building in nuclear and reactor science and technology, provide a research facility for academic and research institutions, demonstrate research reactor operation and utilization and provide support for nuclear manpower development for the nuclear power program of the country,”

Photo from Unsplash

A little bit history, SATER was shut down in 1988, 34 years ago, as repercussion on the controversial cancellation of operating Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) in 1986.

The cancellation has brought fear and anxiety to people, as all the nuclear disasters that happened in the world did but with its subcritical and zero-power configuration, PRR-1 SATER is inherently safe as a facility for nuclear education and research according to DOST.

Aside from the country re-establishing its nuclear capability, the research reactor will also support nuclear education programs that are being offered in UP Diliman and Mapua University.

Also read

Marel Baluyos
Marel Baluyos
"Cebu is my always."

Chemical Engineer / Associate Editor | Bantayan Island, Cebu

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  1. Dahil sa aksidente sa Japan ay natakot ang Germany at nagsara
    ng anim nilang nuclear reactors.
    Kasunod nito ay isasara na nilang l
    lahat ang kanilang
    nuclear reactors sa Disyembre.
    Nangangamoy pera tuloy ang
    nuclear power plant project dito.

  2. DoE reported they will restart the operation as early as 2027. Only the rehabilitation is just started not the operation. Wrong info

  3. Good news as nuclear is more reliable and cheaper to use in the long term. Truck load of urinium will last more than 30years for a nuclear power plant.

  4. The main issue on nuclear plant is more on the environmental impact and nuclear waste disposal. The former might be safeguarded assuming no corruption factors on regulatory compliance and the host population would be convince of the safety net from construction, operation, maintenance and disaster recovery system and isolation during contingency. The later, nuclear waste disposal, would be the more challenging part. Nuclear plant naturally produces nuclear waste. Where to dispose it and is it sustainable, would be the great challenge considering the half life and volume sooner or later. And of course assuming all these are resolved, we need to consider if we are morally ready because the huge investment involved would most likely trigger the corrupt mind, as they say previously, that could lead to questions and risk if the safety nets were diminished to the minimum as a result of corruptions? While nuclear power is technically f a solution in paper and actually other countries have them, we still have to reckon, is the Philippines ready for it particularly with the proliferation of fake news for example, and persistence of corruption in government agencies, just taking the simple case of issuing permits fir example. May be we can consider also other less risky sources which if ever a disaster occurs due to corruptions or assuming natural events, would have not so disastrous repercussions. Regardless of whose idea it is, admittedly we have good nuclear and electrical mechanical power engineers, yes. But do we have incorruptibly morally upright ready decision makers,leaders, and regulators? All said of course with due respect to all concerned, it’s just a personal thought with the hope to contribute in putting things in their proper perspective. May God bless the Philippines.

  5. Bakit pagagamitin ang UP?
    Diba against ang mga yan sa Marcoses? Eh proyekto ng mga Marcos yan bakit sila makikinanabang? Eh diba galing sa nakaw kuno yan. Akala ko magsasara na mga school na yan. May pa luksa session eh pagkadeclare na BBM ang nanalo. Dapat ang makikinabang jan yung mga schools na hindi anti-government. Eh UP papasokin jan eh mga matatalino yon sa sobrang talino naging rebelde. Baka pasabugin yan. Di naton alam takbo ng mga utak nyan tapos isisi nanaman sa pangulo bakit inoperate yung nuclear.

  6. I was at 2nd year in Mech Engg when curriculum was changed with addition of NE as basic subject. That was made possible by a decree of the late FM to DepEd to include the subject in preclude of building the BNP. It came out that disini nego with Westinghouse to build the plant with freebie of now the SATER. The rest was history… The project was all for making money on the expense of Filipinos.
    Btw way i graduated as ME, with a 3 units of NE. Am now a senior citizen.


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