Saturday, May 28, 2011

Malaysiakini - Hold public sessions, MP tells Lynas review panel

Joseph Sipalan and Aidila Razak
May 25, 11

The Lynas review panel, which is scheduled to look into safety issues surrounding the Lynas Advanced Material Plant starting this weekend, should have at least one public session to interact with all stakeholders, says an MP.

Kuantan parliamentarian Fuziah Salleh of the PKR said this was important to ensure that all areas of concern surrounding the controversial facility are brought out in the open.

NONEShe said officials at the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (Miti) – which mooted the formation of the panel – told her that the panel members would do their best to meet all stakeholders within the limited time they will be in Malaysia, failing which they will respond to queries via email.

The panel however will only hold a series of closed-door discussions with stakeholders separately over the course of their six-day visit from May 29 to June 3, Fuziah noted.

“I have a few concerns with this. Each group will meet the panel separately, in private sessions, so how can we ensure that all the arguments are converging? We need at least one public session,” she said when contacted.

Today, Miti took posted announcements in most major dailies, calling on stakeholders to submit their requests for representation if they wished to be heard by the international expert panel formed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

June 1 deadline for requests

Miti's announcement, published in English, Malay and Chinese dailies, said Malaysians and Malaysian-registered organisations would have to submit their requests to Miti via post or by email to by 5pm on June 1 at the latest.

Miti said that efforts would be made to ensure that each request for representation could be made in person, although those who could not be present could do so in writing.

“The preferred language for submission of representations is English. However, submissions can also be made in Bahasa Malaysia or Mandarin,” it said.

NONEThe setting up of the nine-member review panel was announced on May 13 by International Trade and Industry Minister Mustapa Mohamad and it comprises experts in the fields of radiation protection, safety assessment, waste management, transportation and decommissioning and remedial actions for radioactive plants.

The panel is headed by IAEA Department of Nuclear Energy director (nuclear fuel cycle and waste technology division) Dr Tero Varjoranta of Finland. His team will include three other IAEA experts and five external experts.

However, critics have criticised the appointment, arguing that the IAEA is “pro-nuclear”.

Among those expected to submit requests to the panel are the 'Save Malaysia, Stop Lynas' group which largely comprises the residents of Gebeng and Kuantan.

The loose coalition has been carrying out on an ongoing information campaign and protest trail against the Australian plant, which is scheduled for completion in September.

The coalition is expected to be registered with the Registrar of Societies soon.

Despite public fears of exposure to radiation, the Australian mining company building the plant, Lynas Corporation, and the Malaysian government have repeatedly said the plant will be safe and won't be a health hazard.

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