MICHAEL Lee-Chin, the majority shareholder of the NCB Financial Group, has made it as plain as day that he is planning to set up a nuclear power plant in Jamaica, whenever the country's policies and regulations allow for it.
"One hundred per cent," Lee-Chin said in response to a query from the Jamaica Observer about whether he is thinking of setting up a nuclear power plant on the island.
The question was posed after Lee-Chin in May took leave of absence for three months from his role as chairman of the NCB Financial Group, citing among the reasons for doing so, that he wants to give focus to nuclear energy, a new area of business, which, along with precision oncology, has become his new passion.
"You know, there is a saying, whenever there is a shift in the dominant source of energy, there is also a shift in economic power. Right now there is a shift from fossil fuels to nuclear. So [Jamaica] has chance now to become energy independent and lock in energy prices for 20 years through nuclear, and these are 100 per cent safe," Lee-Chin continued.
He said lobbyists have painted a bad picture on nuclear reactors, and pointed to a May 20, 2023 article published on the liberal news site salon.com, which argues that fossil fuel lobbyists in the 1950s, capitalising on Cold War fears of radiation, successfully pushed an anti-nuclear movement, and the world away from a low-carbon path.
But with Energy Minister Daryl Vaz raising the issue once again during his sectoral debate, the topic of nuclear power has been debated widely in Jamaica.
The technology has advanced since the 1950s to smaller and relatively safer small modular reactors (SMRs) which are produced offsite and shipped for assembling on a selected site.
Today, the Business Observer delves a little deeper into the issue to move the debate forward, as we seek to answer questions surrounding the rationality of fear people have expressed about nuclear.