Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Malaysian Insider - Lynas review ignores public health, says Fuziah

By Shannon Teoh

May 30, 2011
Fuziah asked Lynas to move its refinery back to Australia. — file pic
KUANTAN, May 30 — Kuantan MP Fuziah Salleh said today suggestions by the panel reviewing the controversial RM700 million rare earth plant here must be rejected as the team does not address the issue of public health.

“They admitted a gap in their scope as there is no public health expert on the panel. Their suggestions cannot be enforced. No matter how good, their scope is purely technical, not holistic,” said the PKR vice president, who has been leading protests against the refinery being built in the Gebeng industrial zone.

Fuziah told reporters this after her 30-minute meeting with the nine international experts in which she submitted a referendum on behalf of 51,000 signatories.

In the referendum, she said that “whatever technical solutions and recommendations being proposed to the government... will not function as a working model here in Malaysia.”

She told reporters later that the project by Australian miner Lynas Corp could not be judged purely on radioactive emissions and needed to include environmental factors as well.

“There is no population around Lynas’s Mount Weld mine for a 30km radius. But around Gebeng, there are 700,000 residents,” she said.

She added that Lynas should move their refinery back to the Australian desert as it was dry unlike Malaysia, where risks of seepage would be higher due to frequent rain.

The government had bowed to public pressure last month and put the project on ice pending the review by international experts.

Despite the government review, Lynas expects no delay to its plans to begin operations in September as it maintains the plant is safe.

It is anticipating a windfall of RM8 billion a year from 2013 onwards from the rare earth metals that are crucial to the manufacture of high-technology products such as smartphones, hybrid cars and bombs.

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