Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Malaysian Insider - Anti-Lynas group insists Gebeng plant risks outstrip gains

By Debra Chong
June 01, 2011

The Lynas facility is scheduled to come online in September. — file pic
KUANTAN, June 1 — Despite an international review board’s assurance that Lynas Corp’s radioactive rare earths plant in Gebeng met global standards, the People’s Green Coalition wants the Australian miner’s refinery to be barred from operating.

The umbrella body comprising non-governmental organisations and the opposition Pakatan Rakyat (PR) pact insists the risks outweigh the gains, pointing out Lynas will enjoy a 12-year tax break.

In their six-point memorandum handed over yesterday to the nine-man review team from Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the anti-Lynas lobbyists repeated their arguments that the project will cause irreversible harm to the state and the country’s population and ecology due to toxic chemicals released during the manufacturing process and the radioactive waste products.

“A severely damaged ecology will affect fishing, agricultural and animal husbandry industries whose [sic] products will be contaminated and, hence, will be rejected by both the local and international markets,” said the group comprising grassroots movement Save Malaysia, Kuantan Environmental Watch Group, Sahabat Alam Malaysia, Sisters-In-Islam, Suaram and the Kuala Lumpur-Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall among others.

“Once contaminated, the palm oil exports will not be accepted by the international communities with the dire consequences of causing a possible collapse of the palm oil industries in Malaysia resulting in irrevocable damage to the national economy,” it added.

The group noted property prices in and around Kuantan have already plunged due to widespread fear of chemical and radioactive contamination.

It said the tourism sector will likewise suffer a decline as tourists will avoid visiting a contaminated area.

The coastal Gebeng industrial zone, where the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (Lamp) is still being built, is within a 30km drive of popular seaside hotels including the world renowned Club Med in Cherating.

The Green Coalition said any job opportunities at the plant would be rendered superficial when compared to the health and safety risks faced by the workers.

It said it will be submitting a more detailed report to the IAEA in due course after studying the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Radiological Impact Assessment (RIA), which it noted had been displayed to the public only a day before their last-minute meeting.

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