Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) calls on the Ministry of Energy, Green Technology, Science, Climate Change and Environment (MESTECC) to expedite the investigations into the operations of Lynas Corporation Sdn. Bhd located in Gebeng, Pahang and to take all measures to close the plant and remove all the wastes, including the products made from the wastes which are hazardous to public health and the environment.
SAM is extremely concerned by a statement by PAS State Assemblyman for Beserah, YB Haji Andansura Rabu, reported in the media on 21 Sept. claiming that the plant “is safe” and should be allowed to operate freely.
SAM is most disturbed by the Assemblyman’s comments, including in supporting the company’s proposal to “recycle the waste into a soil enhancer for agricultural use”.
Such statements and proposals clearly reveal a complete disregard about the dangers of such radioactive wastes that are harmful to public health and safety, as well as the environment for generations to come.
The dangers of such radioactive wastes from rare-earth processing are exemplified by the effects of such waste on the Bukit Merah community in Ipoh, Perak as a result of the activities of the Asian Rare Earth plant in the early 1990’s.
In fact, the dangers of such wastes which remain radioactive for billions of years, were referred to recently by Malaysian Prime Minister, YAB Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamed and was among the reasons for rejecting nuclear power in the country. (See news reports of 19 Sept). The PM referred to the Bukit Merah case and how Malaysia has lost 1 sq. km of land in Perak to bury the wastes “under thick cement to prevent radiation from affecting people” and which area was still not safe.
SAM is completely in support with the Federal government’s decision not to use nuclear energy as there are no safe ways to dispose and manage such radioactive wastes.
We must learn from the Bukit Merah experience, as YAB Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamed has done, and apply the lessons to the Lynas case. The Bukit Merah community has suffered untold suffering with high levels of mothers miscarrying babies, children suffering from leukaemia, blood lead poisoning and early deaths. These effects are grim reminders not to repeat the mistakes of the past.
It is most worrying that the Lynas plant and the Malaysian Atomic Energy Agency (AELB) have not made public the detailed plan for the permanent waste disposal facility including its location.
Recycling radioactive wastes into “soil enhancers” is a preposterous and irresponsible suggestion which distributes radioactive contamination even wider. A similar proposal was made by the ARE plant in Bukit Merah, which was rejected by the local community and the public who did not wish to be duped by claims of safe use.
SAM also supports the recent statement by YB Wong Tack, the Bentong Member of Parliament (20 Sept) in relation to the dangers posed by the Lynas operations.
We agree completely that Malaysia should not be a dumping ground for radioactive wastes or hazardous activities by foreign rare earth companies who are not allowed to carry out such risky ventures in their own home countries, be it Australia or Japan.
We sincerely hope that the Executive Committee set up to investigate Lynas under MESTECC is convened urgently to halt the dangerous activities of Lynas, which continues to accumulate hazardous wastes on its premises and presents a danger to the surroundings.
Action must be taken soon before it is too late.
S M Mohamed Idris