Saturday, July 02, 2011

Malaysiakini - PAS plans legal action against Lynas project

Hafiz Yatim
Jun 30, 11

The PAS environmental committee along with the Anti Rare Earth action body (Badar) will soon file a legal application in Kuala Lumpur to stop the controversial and hazardous Lynas rare earth project.

NONEThe move will take place after PAS environmental committee head Zulkefly Mohamad Omar, who is also the advisor of Badar, succeeds in attempting to meet Pahang Menteri Besar Adnan Yaakob on July 13 to get first-hand information on the project from him.

Zulkefly, who was a candidate in the Bagan Pinang by-election and is also chairperson of the Broga incinerator project, said once the application is filed, they will apply immediately for an interim stay.

He added that they hope to use his experience gained from the Broga incinerator project, which the residents won, in this case as the problem is serious, hazardous not only to Indera Mahkota residents but also to those in Kuantan and nearby Kemaman.

In the Broga incinerator project, the residents managed to obtain an interim stay, and until decision day the authorities had not responded to the residents' application, resulting in the project being scrapped.

This, Zulkefly said, involved 700,000 people in the three areas who may face long-term health effects as had happened in Bukit Merah.

"This is a harmful project which many people may not realise and does not bring much return. Why should the residents pay the high price in their health for such an investment?" he asked.

“Will 12 years' tax-free incentive for Lynas and 350 people working in the firm provide a good economic return to the economy? Is it worth it?” he asked.

Also present at the press conference was Kuantan MP Fuziah Salleh.

Worried over enforcement and waste management

Zulkefly, an engineer by training, also said the problem in Malaysia is a lack of enforcement and this would be detrimental for a firm like Lynas if it silently flouts with the law.

“In Australia, in the Lynas Mount Weld facility, the nearest residential area in 35km away but in Gebeng it is only 3km. Fifteen different chemicals will be used to extract the rare earth and the waste would be buried in earth.

“We are worried over air and land pollution as the leachette from the material may slip into the stream or rivers and into the sea nearby and this would be truly dangerous and hazardous to living things, including humans,” he warned.

The nearest river there is Sungai Balok.

Fuziah agreed with Zulkefly, as the Lynas project was exempted from being required to do a detailed Environmental Impact Assesment report because it is under the purview of the Atomic Energy Licensing Board.

She said, “How can a project as serious as this be exempted from doing a detailed EIA and this truly show there are loopholes in allowing approval and there will also be problems of enforcing it.”

Citing the New York Times report today, she said the report claimed the construction is “hazardous” and has design problems.

The article claimed that the memos pointed out serious flaws, with engineers detailing structural cracks, air pockets and leaks in many of the concrete shells for 70 containment tanks.

azlanShe pointed out that she had asked a question in Parliament on which project in Malaysia could be considered as hazardous, and the only answer given was Lynas. This showed that it brings ill effects to residents and he could not understand why the BN politicians and Adnan is adamant in wanting it.

The Kuantan MP, who has been actively been involved in the fight against Lynas, said the Molycorp Minerals in California which also produces rare earth is located on an arid piece of land, and the material waste are stored in lead-covered storage.

However, Fuziah said in contrast, Gebeng is not on arid land and in fact it is near a river and this makes it much more difficult.

“I do not think Lynas will be that responsible if a mishap happens and the New York Times report shows this,” she said, adding that the problem of enforcement is a serious issue.

Zulkefly added that if one were to look at the after-effects of the Bukit Merah residents following another rare earth project, the people will know why it should be opposed as there are more children there having leukaemia, and adults there are also facing the effects.

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