QUEZON CITY, METRO MANILA — Unknown to many, the Philippines actually has a strategic plan to respond to nuclear disasters including a meltdown of a nuclear reactor—if ever there was one.
The National Radiological Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan (RADPLAN) was formulated in 2000 during the time of former President Joseph Estrada as part of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRMMC).
The RADPLAN was created as an emergency response to radiological concerns and not necessarily about nuclear disasters. It covers emergencies that involved hazardous radiological materials used by specific industries.
However, the RADPLAN also has emergency plans on nuclear disasters from other countries that may have effects in the Philippines, such as nuclear fallout from radioactive clouds.
PNRI's Head of Radiological Impact Assessment Division Teofilo Leonin, Jr. said that the RADPLAN was designed to handle accidents from inappropriately discarded radiological equipment, as well as transport accidents. In addition the RADPLAN is also set to have government agencies respond to terrorists launching nuclear attacks in the Philippines.
Leonin said the RADPLAN has several emergency levels similar to those issued for typhoons and earthquakes. For instance, the lowest accepted level is zero where there is no monitoring of any kind of a radiological concern. At emergency level 1, concerned agencies are alerted when there is an alleged radiological concern within a specific locale.
At emergency level 2, there will be confirmation of a radiological concern within an area. At this point, PNRI and other emergency response agencies will be conducting monitoring of an area from one kilometer to up to 10 kilometers.
The incident in Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plants fall under this category.
Emergency level 3 is activated when there is a major radiological or nuclear occurrence, usually a catastrophic nuclear meltdown. Leonin said that terrorist attacks using nuclear weapons can also fall under this category.
"Actually, the PNRI and the Bureau of Fire Protection has hazmat (hazardous materials) equipment if there are such cases of radiological problems. The key is speed so that the problem is contained at the fastest possible time," Leonin said.
Malacanang recently held a conference with several department heads, including those from the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDRCC) and the DOST regarding the implementation of the RADPLAN.
As assessed by the DOST from reports in Japan and other monitoring agencies abroad, the emergency level is set at zero.
loQal.ph is a website owned and operated by Filquest Media Concepts, Inc. It works under the principle of giving voice to the voiceless, empowering Filipinos and uplifting the image of the Philippines by highlighting its unique culture. To do this, the loQal.ph team produces stories, video, photos and other multimedia content types to inspire and celebrate Filipino achievements, ideas, products and places.