Consumers Association of Penang

Giving voice to the little people...since 1970

Discontinue new rare earth plant in Gebeng

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.

Chronology of events in the Bukit Merah Asian Rare Earth development

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.

Government must come clean on Lynas

The Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) Director Raja Abdul Aziz Raja Adnan has said that the AELB was seeking the help of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to select experts to study the safety of the Lynas rare earth plant project in Gebeng.

Firstly the IAEA was set up to promote the use of nuclear energy and to act as a policeman to check whether a country is conducting a covert nuclear weapons programme. In fact the IAEA helps developing countries in their plans to build nuclear power plants. As such it lends support to the nuclear industry and its expansion world wide.

Given its mandate it would be fanciful to imagine that the IAEA will be in a position to put together an international panel of ‘independent experts’ to carry out a conclusive study.

Scrap Lynas plant

We refer to a statement by International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed that an independent panel will be established soon to conduct a study on the health and safety aspects of Lynas Malaysia Sdn Bhd's rare earth oxides plant in Gebeng.

Following this, Lynas issued a statement that the company is confident that the one month review of its plant in Gebeng will reconfirm that it is safe and presents no hazard to the community or Lynas workers.

We are concerned that this upcoming study could be a sham to try to allay public concerns.  Why not scrap the project now? Why do we need an environmentally unsafe operation? Is foreign investment justifiable when measured against public health and public acceptance? Surely, the health and safety of people and the environment must take precedence over commercial gains.

Papaya trees in Perak hit by virus attack

The Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) is very concerned to learn that papaya trees in Perak were hit by deadly virus. Farmers suffered losses as the only remedy is to chop down all the trees. It is reported that the Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-Based Industries had offered supplies of papaya seeds as assistance to farmers that were hit by the latest virus attack.