JIS News

Efforts to develop a policy framework for a Radiation Protection Infrastructure to oversee the management and use of equipment generating Ionized Radiation in Jamaica are at an advanced stage.
A submission is expected to be made to Cabinet and, following likely approval, a Bill will be tabled in Parliament for debate before being passed into law.
“Where we are now is we are trying to fast track the process,” explained Science and Technology Development Planner at the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), Richard Kelly, who told JIS News that the initial Bill had a number of gaps.
“There is dynamism in the landscape, things have changed, so we have to ensure that we are meeting all of these issues in this new legislation,” he stated.
The absence of an adequate policy and legislative framework has caused some impact on the development and use of nuclear technology in Jamaica. Mr. Kelly notes that there are a number of projects awaiting support from this framework.
Nuclear technology is already in use in several areas of daily life, Mr. Kelly noted. “We’ve been using it in the medical field, in environmental science, in Geo medical studies, in x-rays, in the scanners at the wharves and at the Ports of entry, people are in contact with some of these things on a daily basis, so it’s something we need to look at,” he stressed.
He also stated that radiation technologies hold other significant avenues of benefit for the country. Aside from environmental studies, Geo-chemical studies of Jamaica’s soil can provide a major benefit to the Agricultural sector, making crops more competitive, safer and healthier.
“It’s used in medicines to help cure cancers, it break down pathogens in water, improve water quality, making plants more disease resistant; all of these can be done through nuclear technology and a whole host of other applications,” he said.
Questioned on the delay in finalizing a policy and the availability of the necessary technical expertise, Mr. Kelly stated that policy development was a difficult process, especially where decentralisation was thrown into the mix. Prioritising was needed, as there are highly competent and technically skilled personnel in Jamaica who can deal with the knotty technical areas.