Written Submission to the IAEA International Panel:
Review of Lynas at Gebeng, Kuantan
Thursday, 2 June 2011
Consumers’ Association of Penang and Sahabat Alam Malaysia
The Lynas plant in Kuantan is unravelling into a nightmare. The Lanthamide concentrates (rare earths) from Australia that Lynas will import into Malaysia contain thorium AND uranium, which the processing in Kuantan will produce massive amount of radioactive wastes.
Further, there appears to be a serious disconnect in the entire review process of the Lynas plant. There seems to be two separate approval processes i.e. the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) under the DoE within the MNRE (Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment), and the Radiological Impact Assessment (RIA) under the Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) within the MOSTI (Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation).
On 14 May, the Minister for the International Trade and Industry (MITI), Datuk Seri Mustapha Mohammed announced the independent panel to review the proposed Lynas rare earth processing plant in Gebeng, Pahang.
Since the review involves environmental and public health and radiation safety issues, concerning a hazardous facility, it does not fall under the jurisdiction of the MITI.
We are thus puzzled why MITI was charged with announcing the review panel members, bearing in mind that a preliminary environmental impact assessment was submitted to the Department of Environment (DoE) in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment in 2008.
The Consumers' Association of Penang (CAP) and Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) are very concerned with the Pahang State Government's decision to go ahead with the proposed rare earth plant in Gebeng despite the fact that this refinery is a disaster waiting to happen.
In 2007, SAM was invited by the Terengganu Government to give a briefing on the dangers of rare earth and SAM’s experience dealing with the exposure of radioactive waste in Bukit Merah, Perak. Following this, the project was rejected by the Terengganu Government.
In the last 3 years, CAP and SAM have objected vehemently to the proposed rare earth plant due to the potential public health and environmental impacts of radioactive and hazardous waste that would be generated.
Eight men -- a welder, a shoemaker, a general worker, a pensioner, a barber, a tractor driver, a crane-operator and a cancer victim who was to die shortly -- sued Asian Rare Earth in 1985 on behalf of themselves and 10,000 other residents of Bukit Merah and the environs in Perak. They wanted to shut down this rare earth plant in their village near Ipoh because its radioactive waste was endangering their lives.