Thu | Sep 21, 2017

Letter of the Day | Gov't has moral obligation to reject coal plant

Published:Wednesday | August 10, 2016 | 8:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

Our nation is in danger. The 1,000MW coal-fired plant to be built by the Chinese company Jiuquan Iron & Steel at Nain, St Elizabeth, has too many negatives associated with it and should not be presented to the Jamaican people as a fait accompli.

The Government says it will create 3,000 jobs, include bauxite mines, an alumina refinery, a local electricity network and more, but the danger is the fuel to be used. It will be powered by coal!

Let us not forget that in Europe, when coal was used to power industry, coal caused a dense fog of soot and noxious waste gases called smog, which was the origin of lung diseases that killed hundreds of thousands and made maintaining cleanliness in communities hard.

History shows that killer fogs in London caused over 1,150 deaths in three days from severe air pollution. Human hair samples from that time show antimony and mercury at toxic levels and rivers were also polluted. Acid rain also first occurred at that time as a result of emissions from coal-powered plants. Why would we want to go backwards? The world is moving away from coal. Even if improved, more modern methods are used, coal is NOT the way for Jamaica to go!

The proposed plant is huge. The results will be damaging not only for the community of small farmers in Nain, but for the nation. It will almost double our greenhouse gas emissions and harm our precious environment on which we depend for tourism. It will affect our health, the very air we breathe, and, additionally, the storage and management of toxic coal ash will be a permanent problem.

 

OUR COMMITMENT

 

Jamaica signed the Paris Agreement on Earth Day 2016 and committed to reduce our CO2 emissions by 2025. This coal plant would see us increasing them, instead. As a proud Jamaican, I believe that we should stand by our commitment. Our Government has an ethical and moral responsibility to ensure that neither our reputation nor our nation is endangered.

We must not, and cannot, be apathetic. This is our nation and we must all protect it and see that the decisions made by our politicians are for the long-term good of our people.

Developed countries are using other fuels and avoiding coal. They want to export coal and build new coal plants in developing countries. At the age of 54, Jamaica must show its maturity and say NO to this coal-powered plant.

I implore you to join the environmental organisations who have protested this decision and to call, email or write the prime minister. The Government is not yet listening. Let us make sure they hear our voices.

C.D. FRANCIS

Kingston 6