May 31, 2011

The REFERENDUM on LYNAS RARE EARTH PLANT

NO TOXIC WASTE!


The REFERENDUM On The Setting Up And Operation Of
Lynas Advance Material Plant (LAMP) In Gebeng Kuantan

By The Concern Citizens of Kuantan.
30th May 2011

On behalf of approximately 700,000 citizens that reside within the 30 km radius of Gebeng;

We begin by quoting the following exert from an article titled The Issue of Residual Thorium & Uranium from Rare-Earth Ore Processing Posted By Jack Lifton on March 11, 2011 @ 12:25 pm in News Analysis, Rare Earths



“In the rare-earths sector a very important and under-reported story is coming to the surface. A senior executive at a rare-earth junior said to me at PDAC in Toronto earlier this week that the 800-pound gorilla in every rare-earth venture’s room, was the radioactive thorium and/ or uranium-bearing waste that will be generated by the extraction, separation, and refining operations that are the supply chain steps immediately following mining and mechanical concentration.

It is my understanding that Lynas’ first business plan for the Mt Weld operation put out in 2005 called for only raw ore to be produced in Australia. Every further step in the supply chain was, in that plan, to be done in China, and, at the conclusion the idea was that China would either ship finished rare-earth metals to Lynas’ customers or buy the rare-earth metals at that point or earlier in the supply chain from Lynas. This original Lynas plan faltered on the failure of the Chinese to give guarantees that the ore would remain the property of Lynas, after Chinese work product was added to it. Chinese law on the ownership of natural resources by the State was not specific on when such ownership vested if the goods were imported, and this made institutional investors gun-shy of the project.

One of the major advantages of Lynas’ original plan was that any radioactive residue would have been a Chinese disposal problem, and in those days the Chinese were more flexible about that than they have now become.”


OBJECTIVE
We are aware that the IAEA expert panel is here in Malaysia to investigate the health and safety aspects of LAMP, specifically to review the radiation safety aspects of the facility in relation to relevant international radiation safety standards and good practice.

We are also very aware of the fact that the panel will not engage in policy type of discussions.

However the arguments that we are putting forth in our representation today, will be to put across a strong message to the panel that whatever technical solutions and recommendations being proposed to the government of Malaysia by the panel of international experts at the end of this fact finding mission with not function as a working model here in Malaysia.

Recommendations on LAMP’s safety does not rest on technical recommendations and inputs but rather must be made on a holistic approach on the moral ground by putting people’s safety, health and lives above others.


1) HEALTH CONCERNS.
The information contained in the above article is not of a new discovery. We, the Kuantan Concern Citizens are very much aware of the hazard that lies in the rare earth processing industry which has cause a bad mark in the history of Malaysia. During the 1980’s a similar industry, where a company by the name of Asian Rare Earth (owned by a Japanese company, Mitsubitshi Corporation) had cause a disastrous and irreversible impact to humanity and surrounding ecology. Many children and adults succumbed to illness caused by cancer which includes leukemia and the like. There is also living proof of children who were born deformed or mentally handicap. Cases of fetus which died during pregnancy were also recorded. The village was somehow deserted and not livable. The clean up of the radioactive waste had just been taken recently by the government and the owner of the company and cost the owner over RM 300 million.

Lynas, which do not have any track record in processing rare earth prior to this, to this date had not been able to show any concrete measure in the handling of the radioactive waste generated from the separation process in Gebeng, Kuantan. Although Lynas and the Malaysian government tried to downplay the amount of thorium generated by claiming that the ore from Mount Weld contains less thorium in comparison with the ore used by Asian Rare Earth, the volume that LAMP proposed to process here in Gebeng are many times more than of Asian Rare Earth.

We have no doubt whatsoever that the total accumulated thorium will be very much higher than what was produced in Bukit Merah. Lynas’s claims on having the best engineering practice and safer processing technology were never proven as there is no existing LAMP anywhere prior to this nor is there any existing refinery facility outside China which can be benchmarked to. Until today, Lynas has failed to produce a concrete long term radioactive waste management plan

Considering the overall harm and damages that can be caused by thorium and many other element produced such as uranium waste, radon & thoron gas, and many other hazardous chemicals used in the process, we strongly believe that this facility is not safe. The magnitude of damage to mankind and the environment will be enormous. It will cause an irreversible impact to the community. We definitely will not allow ourselves and our future generation to be the GUINEA PIGS or LAB RATS to the massive experiment which Lynas plan to conduct on humanity. It is morally wrong and a violation of human rights to living a healthy live, to begin an operation on a process which is not proven to be safe especially so when it is near to residential areas in a densely populated area within it’s 30 km radius.

History has shown that industry owner will easily get away from their liability and responsibility because it is not easy to prove that any health impact in future is directly link to their waste generation due to the lack of enforcement in our country. We certainly refuse to shoulder the risk of the harm that this plant poses to our health and the environmental threats to our future generation. We do not want our homeland to be the dumping ground of an irresponsible business entity. Economic gain shall NOT and NEVER take priority over safety and health of human being.



2) ECONOMIC CONCERNS
Kuantan is a tourist destination with beautiful beaches and scenic sights. Many of the local residents immediately next to the LAMP site thrives on the tourism industry by being proprieters of budget hotels and homestays as well as managing the seafood industry to cater for the needs of locals and tourists alike. At the same time Kuantan also harbours one of the largest fishing port in Malaysia which registers more than 390 deep sea trawlers at it’s docks. The stigma that this industry brings will certainly bring a heavy blow to the local residents and Kuantan will not be an attractive destination for tourist anymore. Even right now as we sit here in this meeting, the prices of property in Kuantan have spiraled down. Not to mention the cost of health insurance that will be burdensome to the Kuantan tax payers. The Kuantan Local Council has signed an undertaking to adopt the Local Agenda 21 in support of sustainable development way back in the year 2001. Thus, approving LAMP without prior consultation with the public and the stakeholders in Kuantan is a totally unacceptable act and contravenes the principles of sustainable development adopted in Local Agenda 21.




3) LAX ENVIRONMENTAL LAWS
Specifically with regards to this industry, Malaysia does not have stringent environmental laws to protect our Environment. Even the regulator for LAMP project will be the AELB (Atomic Energy Licensing Board) as compared to the EPA in Australia or the US.

4) ENFORCEMENT ISSUES
There are always issues regarding slack enforcement as well as corruption in this country (the Corruption Perception Index for Malaysia being at 56 out of 178 countries is testimony to this fact). Even if Malaysia imposes fines on Lynas (a 100% Australian owned company) for non compliance, whatever the amount will be peanuts compared to the total export value of RM8 billion a year that Lynas will be enjoying.


5) LYNAS’S CREDIBILITY AND INTEGRITY
Lynas’s credibility is greatly questionable

(i) Even in Australia, Lynas has a record of non compliance to the Safety Standards set in the original works approval for (Environmental Assessment Report – Amendments to works approval W4440/2008/1 regards tailings storage facility of their Concentration Plant in Mt Weld)
(ii) Lynas has been misleading the public by providing the Malaysian public as well as the Malaysian authorities with incomplete or skewed information.
(iii) Lynas is using Chinese standards in Malaysia as opposed to what they claim that they adhere to strict IAEA standards. By using Chinese standards (GB9133-88), they get away with their claim that the waste is NON RADIOACTIVE since the specific radioactivity level of their waste is at 61 Bq/g ( the limit in Chinese Standards is 74Bq/g while the limit in Australia and by IAEA standards is 1 Bq/g) The RIA report dated June 2010 confirms the specific radioactivity level of the waste.


6) SIGNED PETITION From the Kuantan Folks
Copies of 51,000 plus petition collected from Kuantan alone (from 15th March – 30th May 2011) suffice to impress upon the panel the grievance of the Kuantan public. This forms an integral part of the referendum.


EXPECTED OUTCOME
The Citizens of Kuantan are not opposed to development. However, we would like to assert strongly that the development we desire is in the form of SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT.

Therefore, we demand the government of Malaysia to stop Lynas from operating its rare earth processing plant in Kuantan or anywhere in Malaysia. We do not have faith that whatever recommendations given by the panel can be and will be complied to. We do not want to face a radioactive problem in our backyard when Gebeng is turned into an onsite radioactive waste dumping ground for LAMP forever. We certainly do not want to subject ourselves or our family members to severe health threats while Lynas make their way to the bank, laughing..

Our expected outcome from your mission here in Malaysia will be that we expect you to advise the government of Malaysia as well as the state government of Pahang that they have made a mistake in giving approval for LAMP to be constructed in Gebeng. Never the less it is not too late for the Malaysian authorities to make the right moral decision for the Concerned Citizens, all 700,000 living within 30 km radius of LAMP which is NOT to ISSUE an Operating License due in September.

I also trust that the panel will make it’s decision based on conscience, putting lives and environment first before profits, as the lives of the citizens are of paramount importance, priceless and totally not negotiable.



Representation From the Kuantan Concern Citizens


Represented by:

Fuziah Salleh
Member of Parliament,
Kuantan.
30th May 2011
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