Don't renew Lynas' operating licence, urge elected reps, NGOs

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Pahang elected representatives and environmental activist groups have spoken out against the renewal of the operating licence for the Lynas Advance Materials Plant in Kuantan, alleging serious environmental issues and non-compliance by Lynas to accepted rules and operating standards.

They dismissed last week's announcement by International Trade and Industry Minister Mustapa Mohamed, that fears over the rare earth plant's operations were unwarranted, accusing Mustapa of oversteppping his ministerial jurisdiction.

"What qualifies a trade minister to make a scientific statement on a toxic industry involving radioactive wastes?

"Where is the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry (Mosti) and the Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB)? Have both of this ministry and agency fallen into complete irrelevance?" they asked in a joint statement.

The group also expressed shock to hear the confirmation from Amanda Lacaze, CEO of Lynas Corporation, that the recycling of toxic radioactive wastes into commercial by-products, is still in the R&D stage.

"This proves that the then Health Minister Liow Tiong Lai had lied to the people for saying that Lynas has successfully developed ways to recycle their toxic radioactive wastes," they lamented.

Expressing their concern over the matter, the group listed seven reasons why they thought Lynas should not be allowed to continue to operate its Kuantan rare-earth plant:

1) Lynas did not comply with the recommendations of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). After four years in operation, they still do not have a Permanent Waste Disposal Facility.

2) To date, no detailed environmental impact assessment (DEAI) has been carried out.

3) The siting of Lynas’ toxic radioactive plant is right on a sensitive wetland area, within a township of 700,000 residents is not acceptable.

4) Lynas has failed to keep their written promise to send their toxic radioactive wastes back to Australia.

5) They have lied and manipulated the authorities and people of Malaysia that they will recycle their toxic radioactive wastes into commercial products. A promise which until today, has never seen the light of day.

6) Lynas has been in a critical financial situation since starting operations. Malaysians might be faced with the burden of cleaning up the massive stockpile of radioactive wastes that further operations will only add to, should the plant closes down.

7) Lynas has failed to carry out open and transparent consultations with the people.

The group also called upon the AELB and Mosti to look to their conscience, and carry out their duties with the highest integrity and responsibility.

"The wellbeing of our children is at stake. If Lynas is allowed to continue to operate in such irresponsible manner, we foresee a repeat of the Bukit Merah tragedy. The only difference is, this time it will be ten times more serious," read the statement.

The statement was signed by Kuantan MP Fuziah Salleh, Indera Mahkota MP Fauzi Abdul Rahman, and ssemblypersons Andansura Rabu (Beserah), Lee Chean Chung (Semambu) and Sim Chon Siang (Teruntum).

Environmental groups Gelombang Hijau, Himpunan Hijau, Save Malaysia Stop Lynas and the Stop Lynas Coalition also lent their signatures.

Construction began on the Lynas Kuantan plant in 2012, and the rare earth separation facility started operating in 2015 in the face of massive public outcry, though the government and the Australian firm that operates it claims there is no danger to the environment and the local population.

The plant's operating licence is up for renewal in September.

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