Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Villafuerte yesterday proposed the integration of nuclear science in Science subjects to increase public awareness of the benefits of nuclear science and technology, especially among the youth.
In his keynote address at the opening ceremonies of the 34th Atomic Energy Week held yesterday at the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI) - Department of Science and Technology (DOST) complex in Diliman, Quezon City, Villafuerte said Science subjects should include nuclear science and technology.
"As we have Science subjects (in elementary and high school curriculums, we should) introduce in Science subjects a part that will consist of nuclear science and technology," he said.
"I would like to see a greater awareness of our people about nuclear science and technology. Maybe we should support conferences or even seminars and workshops elsewhere throughout the country in order to create awareness," he said.
Villafuerte, vice-chairman of the Committee on Appropriations and Subcommittee on Science and Technology of the House of Representatives, said nuclear science and technology is "a subject that the public has very little understanding of."
He said nuclear science and technology is "feared by a lot of people" as it is usually linked to nuclear weapons.
Citing the mothballed Bataan nuclear power plant, Villafuerte said it is one of the "most misunderstood power generation technology" in the country.
"By and large, it (nuclear power plant) is a very safe technology. There are adequate control procedures to deter and prevent any danger to life, limb and property," he said, adding that other developing and industrialized countries actually use nuclear power plants for power generation.
Aside from public awareness on the benefits of nuclear science through the integration of nuclear S & T in Science subjects, Villafuerte said the country must also provide additional scholarships and trainings to strengthen nuclear S & T in the country.
He said youths should be encouraged to take up courses involving nuclear science and update their knowledge and skills by taking up further studies.
"Konti ang may Master in Science (M.S.) and doctorate (Ph.D.) in nuclear science," Villafuerte observed.
He said to further strengthen nuclear science and technology in the country, the government through PNRI, should put together a comprehensive list or inventory of research and development programs, beneficial uses of nuclear S & T in various fields, including education, food and agriculture, medicine, industrial applications and services.
The inventory must include the existing and additional equipment needed in the pursuit of a stronger nuclear science culture in the country.
Madel R. Sabater, Reporter
Tuesday, 12 December 2006
Mutant ornamental plants... radiation-modified products from carrageenan (a seaweed product) such as hydrogel dressing and plant growth promoter... food products and cosmetic materials treated with radiation... nuclear techniques and services such as gamma irradiation...
These are some of the products and services developed by nuclear technology that will be featured during the celebration of the 34th Atomic Energy Week on December 11 to 15, 2006 at the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI) in Diliman, Quezon City. The theme for this year's celebration is Harnessing Nuclear Technology for a Peaceful Tomorrow.
The PNRI is a research and development institute of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and the national authority on nuclear matters.
PNRI Director Alumanda M. dela Rosa said that the AEW celebration aims to generate awareness of the Filipino people on the beneficial uses of nuclear technology in different areas such as in food and agriculture, health and medicine, industry, the environment and on nuclear safety and security.
The keynote speaker for the opening ceremonies on December 11 is Congressman Luis R. Villafuerte, Vice-Chairperson, Committee on Appropriations and Sub-committee on Science and Technology. DOST Secretary Estrella F. Alabastro will give a message.
The daily activities slated for the open house celebration of the Atomic Energy Week are guided tour of the facilities, viewing of exhibits, film showing, radioactive source hunting, and lecture series on nuclear science. The topics for the lecture-series are Fundamental Concepts About Radiation, Biological Effects of Radiation and Radiation Safety; Electricity Generation from Nuclear Power; Radiation Protection and detection; and Effects of Radiation on Ornamental Plants.
An on-the-spot poster making contest for Quezon City high school students will be held on December 13. This activity is sponsored by the Quezon City Office of the Mayor.
For those who are interested to participate in any of the AEW activities and for further information about the celebration, contact Rhodora Leonin or Justina Cerbolles, PNRI Information Officers, at 920-8787 or 929 6010 to 19 ( PNRI Trunkline) local 286.
The chief of the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute said bringing nuclear science into the classrooms will help Filipino students learn and appreciate more the potential benefits the government can generate from atomic energy, like weaning away the country from its dependence on fossil fuel.
PNRI Director Alumanda Dela Rosa said harnessing nuclear power is strategic to any country's supply of energy, "which is the key to social and economic progress and holds the promise of more food, better health and greater productivity."
She added: "We are pinning our hope on the next generation of Filipinos who will be able to participate in the quest for new discoveries within the atom and we could provide them the facts during their formative years in high school and college so that when they become decision makers, they know the facts and they can decide."
The Institute, which succeeded the Philippine Atomic Energy Commission, conducts summer training courses on nuclear science for high school and college teachers at the PNRI training center in Diliman, Quezon City. The program runs for six weeks.
PNRI also holds nuclear awareness seminars in schools and accepts educational tours at the PNRI laboratories. It also sponsored the participation of teachers in international seminars and training programs through its linkage with foreign atomic energy agencies.
"We believe," she told the 134th general assembly of FUSE (Foundation for Upgrading the Standard of Education), "we need to touch base with students, particularly those in secondary level and the reason for this is that atomic energy, when properly utilized, holds the promise of abundant power."
Turning to the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant, Dela Rosa said the controversial facility's sister plants in South Korea, Brazil and Slovenia, with the same technology are now operating and do not posed any serious problems.
Under the plan drawn up by the Department of Energy, the "window of opportunity" to harness nuclear power as source of energy may come in year 2025, which would drastically reduce the country's dependence on imported fuel and greatly diversify fuel sources.
The government, Dela Rosa recalled, had commissioned studies as early as the 1960s to determine the viability of a nuclear power plant in the country and in the 70s, during the oil crisis, decided to adopt a nuclear power program that led to the construction of the Bataan facility.
The years 1985-86, the PNRI head said, were a bleak period for nuclear power development as "nuclear power became a taboo in official planning circles."
Dela Rosa explained to the FUSE assembly, which strongly pushes Science, Math and English as the principal anchors of the education system, that nuclear science supports the development of emerging sciences such as biotechnology.
"The development in this field could not have been fast without the use of radioisotopes to trace the structures and functions of DNA and proteins." Radioisotopes are also utilized to scan the body for cancer and monitor the success of the treatment.
Dr. Alumanda M. dela Rosa, who heads the Institute, and Dr. Emerenciana B. Duran, President of Scientific Solutions International, Inc. (SSI), who undertook the construction of the infrastructure and the station’s initial testing, formally signed the certification turning over to PNRI the operation of the international monitoring facility sponsored by the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO). The RN52 facility forms part of the international “eyes and ears” of the organization that is on the look-out for nuclear weapons testing worldwide.
In her brief statement, Dr. dela Rosa lauded the collaborative effort of the Health Physics staff, led by Ms. Teresa Nazarea, and the SSI for laying the necessary groundwork leading to today’s turn-over rites. She also acknowledged the local weather bureau, PAGASA, who provided the site for the facility and who has made available two of its personnel to undertake the operation of the station together with four of PNRI’s staff.
Dr. Duran, on the other hand, expressed gratitude saying that the success of the endeavor is owed to the synergy between PNRI and SSI. She promised to entertain questions on the station’s operation should these arise, and stressed the importance of data quality and adherence to the standard operating procedures to ensure the smooth run of the facility. The company she heads will be responsible for preventive maintenance in the station until the year 2008.
The formal contract governing the operation of RN52 is expected to be finalized anytime today by the Preparatory Commission of the CTBTO.