MP SPEAKS | I refer to the statements by Entrepreneur Development Minister Mohd Redzuan Md Yusof and Lynas in reference to the Parliamentary Caucus to Monitor Lynas Committee members' decisions not to entertain the invitation by Lynas to visit its plant.
The statements obviously have the intention to tarnish the credibility and reputations of the caucus members.
First of all, I wish to state that I have visited the Lynas plant in Gebeng in August 2018.
Secondly, I wish to state that I applaud my caucus colleagues stance not to dance to Lynas’ tunes nor entertain their drama.
They do not need to visit the Lynas plant to know that Department of Environment (DOE), for reasons only they themselves know, has allowed Lynas to store on-site over a million metric tonnes of hazardous scheduled wastes (NUF) which are piled up like mountains, in open air over the last six years.
The Environmental Quality Act 1974 - Environmental Quality (Scheduled Wastes) Regulation 2005, Rule 9 and 10 clearly state that :
i) Scheduled wastes must be stored in a sealed container and cannot be stored on-site for more than 180 days at a quantity not exceeding 20 metric tonnes.
ii) The date of the schedule wastes are first generated must be clearly labeled.
They do not need to visit the Lynas plant to question how the radioactive contaminated wastes generated can be accurately quantified from the way it is stored.
And if this is not possible, then how do the regulators monitor and ensure compliance to laws on wastes management?
They do not need to visit the Lynas plant to know that the Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB), for reasons only they themselves know, has allowed Lynas to store on-site almost half a million metric tonnes of radioactive wastes (WLP) in a flood prone, reclaimed peat swamp area even though the Atomic Energy Licensing (Radioactive Waste Management) Regulations 2011 - Rule 21 clearly states that radioactive wastes cannot be stored in a location that is prone to natural disaster.
They do not need to visit the Lynas plant to know that AELB, for reasons only they themselves know, has allowed Lynas to store on-site, massive amounts of the radioactive wastes (WLP) in open air when they are supposed to be isolated from the biosphere.
The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA), the main representative body for all registered medical practitioners in Malaysia with over 10,000 members, in a statement issued on July 20, 2011 on Lynas, raised the concern that the method of storing the WLP radiaoctive wastes in open air predispose to radioactive particles dusting the environment, increase the chances of inhalation of such particles by the surrounding community.
Radionuclides in air-borne dust inhaled will accummulate in the body, releasing radiation constantly next to the cells which may result in cancer.
There are ten kampungs (communities) located less than 5km from the Lynas plant and approximately 700,000 residents living within a 35km radius.
They do not need to visit the Lynas plant to know that Malaysians will not sacrifice a massive piece of our precious land to build Lynas radioactive wastes “tomb”.
We have lost 1km square of land in the pristine Kledang Range near Bukit Merah forever, to bury Asian Rare Earth’s (ARE) radioactive wastes. Lynas’ operation is at least ten times bigger that ARE’s.
They do not need to visit the Lynas plant to know that Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad in reference to this painful Bukit Merah tragedy has once said,
“Eventually, we agreed to bury this substance (radioactive wastes) in an area which was one square kilometre large. We had to bury it under thick cement to prevent the radiation from affecting people. Malaysia lost one square kilometre of land as the area was still not safe, which also led to losses in terms of areas meant for development. The radiation effects triggered fear among the community, we don't want a repeat of this.”
- New Straits Times, 18 September 2018.
They do not need to visit Lynas to know that Mahathir has also said that all promises in the Pakatan Harapan’s manifesto will be fulfilled.
It should be noted that Promise 39 of the Manifesto is to balance economic growth with environmental protection.
They do not need to visit the Lynas plant to know that it does not make any economic sense nor fair to burden our children and future generations with the cost to manage Lynas’ radioactive wastes for possibly billions of years.
Not many know that Lynas’ radioactive waste contains Thorium radionuclides which have a half life of 14 billion years. In other words, Lynas’ radioactive wastes is a permanent problem.
They do not need to visit the Lynas plant to know that the aspirations for a clean and green environment of the tens of thousands of Malaysians who have “greenwalked” and participated in Himpunan Hijau’s protest rallies as well as the over a million who have signed the petition calling for the shut down of Lynas, must be fulfilled.
They do not need to visit the Lynas plant to know that the wellbeing of the people and environment will not be compromised for profits or FDI (foreign direct investments).
The saddest thing right now is we still have ministers who are ignorant and supportive of wrongdoings as well as regulators who until today, have failed in their duties to enforce the laws.
However, I also confidently know that the majority of my colleagues in Parliament, from both sides of the divide are standing firm with the rakyat on the Lynas issue.
Justice for the people will prevail. A U-turn will not be tolerated.
Let’s continue to stand together to realise our aspirations for a green and corruption-free country.
WONG TACK is the Bentong MP and chairperson of the Parliamentary Caucus to Monitor Lynas Committee.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.