Jamaica has officially launched the Hazardous Substances Regulatory Authority (HSRA), becoming the first country in the English-speaking Caribbean to establish a full regulatory body for radiation protection and safety, and enhancing the country’s reputation regionally and globally.
Representatives from several organisations of the international radiation protection and safety community participated in the virtual event held on Thursday (October 29).
Among them are the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA), the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the International Radiation Protection Association (IRPA).
Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Audley Shaw, in hailing the achievement, said that the entity is “well-resourced and positioned to assist with the management and use of ionising radiation and nuclear technology… to provide tremendous benefits for many aspects of our lives and the environment”.
He noted, for example, that the work of the HSRA will enable the country to leverage nuclear technology to strengthen food security, which is a top priority of the Government.
He said that radiation has been used in agriculture to rear better varieties of animals and plants and provide effective sterilisation of agro produce.
“The effective elimination or management of disease-carrying pests using nuclear technology also enhances food security and safety, while promoting greater profitability for farming and agro businesses. We are able to reduce waste and penetrate new markets by meeting and exceeding the requirements of our trading partners in the areas of safety and produce quality. This is key if Jamaica is to improve its global competitiveness,” Minister Shaw noted.
Chairman of the HSRA, Professor Ishenkumba Kahwa, for his part, said the country’s nuclear energy programme can be harnessed to achieve the goals of the national development plan, Vision 2030, in the development of a healthy population, creating an enabling business environment and strong economic infrastructure, developing a technology-enabled society and building internationally competitive industrial structures.
“Aggressive engagement of atomic energy can contribute to the realisation of these outcomes and propel Jamaica to developed country status sooner… . Atomic energy is the perfect example of the science and technology, which Jamaica has already widely engaged in for development through many nuclear and radiation-based facilities in [the island],” he said.
An agency of the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, the HSRA is mandated to regulate the activities, practices, apparatuses and facilities that are involved in the use of ionising radiation and nuclear technology for the protection of people, property and the environment from the harmful effects of such technology and connected matters.
The entity also liaises with other government or non-governmental authorities having competence in health and safety, environmental protection, emergency preparedness and response, security and transport of dangerous goods.
The entity was established in December 2016 and became operational in September 2017.
The HSRA has responsibility for administering the Nuclear Safety and Radiation Protection Act, 2015 and the Nuclear Safety and Radiation Protection Regulations of 2019.