Pangasinan Rep. Mark Cojuangco is proposing to utilize Pag-asa Island in Kalayaan town, West Philippine Sea, as storage facility for nuclear waste once the country decides to tap nuclear energy for power generation needs.

Rep. Cojuangco, who chairs the House special committee on nuclear energy, pointed out that Pag-asa is geologically stable and ideal for such storage facility and utilizing it for the purpose also helps strengthen the country’s sovereignty over the area.

“The most stable geologic area in the Philippines is Palawan because it is part of the continental shelf. Pag-asa Island, for example, would make an ideal location both for interim storage and final disposition,” Cojuangco said in an interview with ANC Digital.

“I think we could kill two birds with one stone with Pag-asa. Exert our national sovereignty and create economic activity,” he added.

His statement came after the 123 Agreement between the Philippines and the United States became enforceable on July 2.

The agreement, signed in November 2023 between Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Raphael Lotilla and U.S. Department of State Secretary Antony Blinkin will allow the country to import nuclear materials and equipment from the U.S. to build and operate power facilities utilizing the technology.

Cojuangco dispelled fears of a nuclear accident in Pag-asa, citing the high reliability and safety of current nuclear technologies.

“If you look at the history of nuclear power over the past 60 years, except for Chernobyl, there was no mortality in any nuclear accident. Meaning, it is the safest energy source compared to all including wind and solar” he explained.

“The implication is that nuclear, because it replaces the more deadly forms of energy, which is coal and gas, actually saves lives,” he said further.

According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, nuclear power plants are among “the safest and most secure facilities in the world,” subjected to stringent international safety standards.

Generating nuclear power produces hazardous radioactive waste that must be safely managed and stored for hundreds of years.

A report from the American Chemical Society in 2020, revealed that more than a quarter million metric tons of highly radioactive waste is stored near nuclear power plants and weapons production facilities worldwide, with over 90,000 metric tons in the U.S. alone. This waste emits radiation that poses serious risks to human health and the environment.

The World Nuclear Association said that the Chernobyl incident in Ukraine in April 1986 was “the most serious nuclear accident” that had caused fatalities.

It was followed in March 2011 by the Fukushima Daiichi incident in Japan, following a massive earthquake. But the association stated that no fatalities were recorded because “reactors close to the earthquake, including those operating at Fukushima, shut down as designed.”

Palawan News has sought a reaction from the local government of Kalayaan on the proposal and is yet to receive a reply.