SUTHERLAND... given how small we are, poor we are, at disposing of waste, you can definitely tell that we are going to see people succumbing from radiation poisoning (Photo: Naphtali Junior)

MIXED reactions and questions from the public to the Government following the announcement of introducing nuclear energy in Jamaica.

The major thought among the people that the Jamaica Observer caught in the streets of New Kingston and Cross Roads in Kingston was that if nuclear energy could reduce their electricity bills for the most part or offer competition to JPS then they are all for it.

"Right now the energy we using, the oil, getting expensive, maybe a combination of both [fossil fuel and nuclear] would help the country, so you wouldn't totally do away with the current one but the nuclear could play a help," shared Robert Green, a civilian in Cross Roads.

Green had a similar view to a taxi man in New Kingston who admitted he wasn't fully sure what nuclear energy is but if it will help electricity costs to go down, it's a good move.

Green... supports nuclear energy as long as it reduces his electricity bill (Photo: Naphtali Junior)

However, there were some apprehensions. While many did not completely object to the idea, they felt Jamaica was not ready to deal with nuclear waste with varying levels of radioactivity.

"Given how small we are, poor we are at disposing of waste, you can definitely tell that we are going to see people succumbing from radiation poisoning; however, it should provide more jobs," Chip Sutherland shared with the Business Observer while walking by in New Kingston.

Another passer-by had a slightly different view on employment opportunities, questioning whether Jamaica had the trained personnel to work at such facilities.

"I don't see anyone in Jamaica educated enough for that, plus you going to have to pay them to migrate here and then any nuclear reaction and anything happen, we are so stacked up," said Althea Allisson, a citizen, in referring to Jamaica's dense population should a nuclear disaster take place.

MARK... there's a lot more to be known about it [nuclear energy], I think people need to be more sensitised and aware about this thing. I personally don't believe we are ready (Photo: Naphtali Junior)

She further stated that she is not in agreement with the decision to build a nuclear facility in Jamaica. Allison felt it would take more from Jamaicans as the Government would need to clear civilization away from such a facility, forcing people out of their homes.

She went on to say that while many would jump at the option to see a reduction in their electricity bills, she questioned how Jamaica would get access to uranium.

Uranium is the fuel most widely used by nuclear plants for nuclear fission, according to the energy information administration. Uranium is a common metal found in rocks worldwide, but it's not available in Jamaica; therefore it would have to be imported and Allison says that could brew up tensions among our nation's allies.

"If is China or America, any one of them, is them we have to answer to. If we get it from China, America will resent us; if we get it from Russia, America is going to resent us. So who will we get it from? And whoever we get it from will want control," said Allison in concern.

For a few, the memories of the Fukushima disaster in 2011 — which resulted from an earthquake and subsequent tsunami that damaged the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear plant in Japan — still linger. These nuclear disasters had significant consequences in terms of human health, and environmental contamination, which has greatly impacted public perception of nuclear energy.

Despite arguments that technology has improved and the lessons from those disasters in other countries are unlikely to be repeated, some Jamaicans have held firm to what they know is a real possibility through past experience and would rather a safer alternative be used instead.

"I personally would not want nuclear energy here; I would rather use solar energy, wind energy, natural things that are available to us because the risk of harm is less," said Melanie, a passer-by in Cross Roads.

Another man chimed in explaining that his stance against it is not out of fear of nuclear disaster, but rather it was that the country's infrastructure was not ready neither are Jamaicans fully informed as to what nuclear energy is.

"I don't think Jamaica is at that level as yet. There's a lot more to be known about it [nuclear energy]. I think people need to be more sensitised and aware about this thing. I personally don't believe we are ready," shared Mark with the Business Observer.

BY CODIE-ANN BARRETT Senior business reporter

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