Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Malaysian Insider - Anti-Lynas group says international report not credible

Anti-Lynas group says international report not credible

June 11, 2011
The Lynas Kuantan plant under construction from file pic March 19, 2011. — Picture by Choo Choy May
KUALA LUMPUR, June 11 — An anti-Lynas rare earths plant group has dismissed the highly-anticipated international review report, saying it is only limited to whether the Kuantan refinery conforms to global standards.

The report by the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is due on June 30, well ahead of the RM700 million plant’s opening in September.

“The IAEA has accepted that there is no safe threshold to ionizing radiation and even exposure to background radiation can cause some cancers.

“The IAEA has also accepted that one in five workers would get cancer if exposed to the legally allowable occupational doses over 50 years in the workforce,” said People’s Green Coalition (PGC) spokesman Dr T. Jayabalan today.

Jayabalan said that the PGC is working on the basis that the pre-operating license it will be approved.

“There are legal provisions these people should go into — call for an injunction, public interests can be served many ways and one is injunction,” he said.

Jayabalan said the review panel admitted that they were given very limited mandate by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) to assess whether the radiation level emitted by the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (Lamp) conforms to the standard perscribed by the IAEA and that no other issues will be given considerations.

All eyes are on the report as no pre-operating licence will be forthcoming while the panel of international experts reviews the project over the rest of the month.

Lynas had said that “as part of obtaining the company’s staged approval process, Lynas has been granted approvals from the Department of Environment, Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) and Nuclear Malaysia proving the safety” of its plant.

Although the company has been given site and construction approvals, it has yet to complete its application for a pre-operating licence which must be obtained before full permission to operate is given by the AELB.

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

Clement Chin from Save Malaysia, Stop Lynas, said that certain politicians and leaders have manipulated the issue into a racial and political one.

“They claim that the people were stirred up by the Opposition parties so they are trying to link us with the Opposition parties and turning it into a political issue also.

“We are open to all political parties irrespective of which side of the divide and our main concern is Lynas and whatever the political affiliation is a separate issue. So we have to make it very clear,” he said.

Jayabalan pointed out that the IAEA has no power to regulate nor the power to enforce compliance to its recommendations once LAMP starts its operation.

“The IAEA panel also commented that although they have their conscience towards the people of Malaysia, that conscience may not be fully exercised as they are restricted to base their recommendations strictly according to the radiation safety standard of the IAEA to the exclusion of all other considerations.

“We assert that there is no safe radiation level and that incremental radiation exposure will harm our health and imperial our future generations. We demand the closure of LAMP,” Jayabalan said.

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.

“We want to appeal to the general Malaysians, to the public who love this country, who wants to keep this country environmentally free from radiation, this hazardous waste problem, that they come and support us in whatever we’re doing,” Chin pleaded.

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