Women Say No to Coal: 51% Coalition’s Open Letter to Prime Minister Holness

Please find below an Open Letter from the 51% Coalition – Women in Partnership for Development and Empowerment. This letter to Prime Minister Andrew Holness, expresses concern over the proposed coal-fired power plant for an industrial park in Nain, St. Elizabeth. 

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The Most Honourable Andrew Holness, ON, MP

 

August 8, 2016

Dear Prime Minister:

We, the organizations and individual members of the 51% Coalition, wish to express deep concern regarding the proposal to build a large coal-fired power plant at a planned industrial zone in Nain, St. Elizabeth. The Coalition believes this will have extremely harmful effects on the surrounding community and across our small island, particularly for its women and their families.

The pollution and consequent health risks cannot be denied. A coal-fired power plant produces many toxins that pollute the air, water and soil. A typical 1000 MW plant emits every year thousands of tons of sulphur dioxide (producing acid rain) and nitrogen oxide (producing smog and acid rain); and millions of tons of carbon dioxide, the main contributor to global warming. The plant would emit hundreds of tons of poisonous carbon monoxide; of tiny particulates, which lodge in the lungs; and of hydrocarbons that produce smog.; and would produce hundreds of pounds of heavy metals, including lead, arsenic and mercury, as well as radioactive elements. Many thousands of tons of toxic ash and sludge waste would have to be stored in the area.

According to Dr. David Smith of the Institute of Sustainable Development at the University of the West Indies, this cocktail of toxic chemicals especially damages the health of young children and fetuses in the womb. It will also lead to an increase in respiratory diseases including asthma. These impacts would put additional pressure on women who carry the brunt of care responsibilities for children and the elderly, and on our already over-burdened health service.

In addition to the potential health impacts, we are deeply concerned about the potential impact on the water resources of the community. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, a typical coal plant withdraws between 70 and 180 billion gallons of water per year. This would place severe strain on the already water-deprived area and impact women, who are mostly responsible for providing food and water for their families. Farmers, many of whom are women, would also be affected by lack of water and pollution of the soil in a largely agricultural area.

The Coalition urges you to reconsider and to look at alternative energy sources, as outlined in the Jamaican Government’s own National Energy Policy and in Vision 2030, which states “moving towards a green economy” as a key goal. Jamaica’s Nobel prize-winning physicist, Professor Anthony Chen, has stated that the plant would “more than double our present carbon emissions. Our Intended Nationally Determined Contributions declared in Paris would make very little sense.”

In light of the above, Prime Minister, we urge you to “do the right thing,” ensuring that present populations and future generations can flourish, not perish.

We look forward to an opportunity to discuss this matter with you, as well as other issues of pressing concern to the nation, and look forward to your positive response.

Yours faithfully,

51% Coalition

Cc  The Hon. Lester Michael Henry, CD, MP, Minister of Transport and Mining

Cc  Dr. the Hon. Andrew Wheatley, MP, Minister of Science, Energy and Technology

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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