The headline says it all. Western Australia’s Mines, Petroleum, Energy and Industrial Relations Minister, Bill Johnston, has refused to take back the radioactive waste produced at Lynas’ rare earth processing plant in Gebeng, Kuantan.
For those people who are not aware, the rare earth which is processed in Kuantan, has its origins in Mount Weld in Western Australia.
Johnston said, “Generally speaking, the best place for contaminated material is where it comes from, which in this case would be in the mine void, but we are not going to take mine waste back from overseas.”
From the very beginning, the Malaysian rakyat has asked, “If the Australians are aware of the dangers posed, why are we stupid enough to accept Lynas? The Australians were prepared to ship the ore at great cost to Kuantan. Did the warning bells not register in the Umno-Baru ministers?
What do you want Lynas to do?
If you ask Malaysians, they would probably say, “Shut Lynas down!”
A few weeks ago, there was a public spat between the Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister, Yeo Bee Yin, and our Flying Car Minister, aka Entrepreneurship Development Minister, Mohd Redzuan Md Yusof.
Yeo had required Lynas to ship its waste back to Australia as part of its licensing condition, in particular, the water leech purification (WLP) residue.
Redzuan is pretty laid back about the whole thing, because under his portfolio, he probably wants to encourage more businesses to invest in Malaysia, and not focus too much on whether the business is detrimental or not, to our environment.
The workers in Lynas have protested that they need jobs; but what about the well being of the surrounding people and the environment? Are those not important considerations? Have the workers considered their own health?
What do you think should be done? Under the previous regime of Umno-Baru/BN, Malaysia appears to have been the dumping ground for plastics and radioactive waste and all sorts of undesirables, even the human extremist form, like Zakir Naik and ISIS recruits.
Types of waste from Lynas
The Lynas facility produces two kinds of waste, (i) radioactive WLP residue and (ii) non-radioactive neutralisation underflow (NUF).
Last December, the records showed that the accumulated WLP residue at Lynas was 451,564 tonnes, while the NUF waste amounted to 1.113 million tonnes.
Lynas tried to commercialise the NUF into viable products, but pilot studies found that its use as fertiliser, led to elevated levels of heavy metal.
A ministerial review committee also warned that if the products were used in larger doses, the heavy metal content could increase.
With so much potential harm being done to our environment, and a host of incompetent and money grabbing former ministers involved in approving the Lynas project, we have a number of questions to ask. Many of them have been asked before, but were conveniently dismissed by Najib and his MPs.
- Why did Najib give the go-ahead for this operation? If Australia did not approve the project on their soil, why was Malaysia stupid enough to accept?
- Did Najib and his ministers think the problem would not happen? Did they think they can just dump the waste in a river, like what has happened in Johore? People do it because they know that our enforcement laws, are bad or non-existent. Little did they realise that Minister Yeo, is NOT like previous clueless Umno-Baru MPs.
- Who was the Minister(s) who approved this Lynas project? Name them and quizz them in a specially formed inquiry.
- What convinced them that Lynas and its by-products are safe?
- It was alleged that two MCA ADUNS from Kuantan were sent to Western Australia, to visit the mine, in mid-2009, to review the project before it started. They were wined and dined, and although initially had reservations, they acquiesced. So, if it transpires that any part of the deal process is inappropriate, then the whole deal should be considered null and void. The MCA ADUNS should be charged.
- Why was a full Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) not done? They probably knew that it would not pass muster, so opted for a fast and furious version of the EIA, to get approval.
- There was much local and international opposition to the Lynas project in Kuantan, but Najib chose to ignore the concerns. Now, we are saddled with a dirty, radioactive environment. He and the list of people who are complicit in approving this project, should be fully investigated and be punished. Heads must roll.
- As an aside, four professors were asked to present their papers to the rulers about the Rome Statute. Why was a similar analysis and presentation not done to the Sultan of Pahang. Projects like Lynas have caused many issues around the world. Why was the Sultan not briefed properly?
What do you think?
Do you want to live in an environment which has accumulated radioactive waste?
What happens if there is flooding or god forbid, a tsunami off the coast of Kuantan and the pit holding WLF is flooded and overflows its banks?
Would you eat fish from the rivers? Or bathe in the rivers, or sea of Kuantan?
Or eat vegetables grown in contaminated soil?
Or purchase keropok lekor when you are not sure in which water the fish has been swimming?
Heads must roll. You need to demand action.
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