Thu | Jul 2, 2020

Environment doomed to suffer

Published:Tuesday | January 11, 2011 | 12:00 AM


While The Gleaner's argument about the relative cost of coal versus LNG as a source of energy for Jamaica has merit, I feel that you have not given sufficient weight to a number of other factors which ought to be considered.

First, the cost of the scrubbers required to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions adds hundreds of millions of United States dollars to the cost of a coal-fired plant, and even with these scrubbers installed, there have been claims of damage to crops and vegetation in the vicinity of coal-fired plants. A recent AP report described widespread damage to trees in many parts of Texas where such plants are in operation.

Second, our poor record of infrastructure maintenance and environmental management does not augur well for our ability to keep such a plant running efficiently, or to deal with the waste material generated by a coal-powered plant in a fashion that will not lead to an environmental disaster. Evidence has been gathered of abnormalities and deformities in tadpoles and fish exposed to the chemicals leached into the environment from the coal-ash ponds which result from the waste created by coal-fired power plants, and in 2008 a coal-ash pond collapsed in Tennessee, polluting many acres of land as well as groundwater.

A careful and thorough evaluation of the true cost (including the cost to the environment) needs to be done before any final decision on the way forward can be made.

I am, etc.,