Lynas: A ticking time bomb?

By Joint Action Group for Gender Equality | March 07, 2012
The Malaysian Insider

MARCH 7 — The Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG) gave our support for the Himpunan Hijau 2.0 protest of February 26. We joined thousands of our fellow Malaysians in calling for an immediate cancellation of the proposed Lynas rare earth plant.

We understand that this plant would involve the production and handling of radioactive waste materials that are highly toxic and not easily disposed of. Moreover, public concerns about the plant have not been addressed nor have adequate measures been taken to ensure that the plant’s operations pose no threat to the residents of Gebeng and its surroundings.

While we are heartened to see that Malaysians are increasingly mindful of and willing to speak up on issues of public interest, we are disappointed with the government’s dismissive attitude towards the legitimate concerns of ordinary Malaysians on this issue.

If most governments around the world steadfastly refuse to build similar plants in their own countries despite the economic incentive to do so, why is Malaysia going ahead with building this plant?

Development should not come before public health and safety nor jeopardise the integrity of our environment. We are concerned that this plant will not only damage our environment but will have an adverse, lasting effect on the health of those who live around the plant.

We are deeply concerned that the Lynas plant received its licence to operate without a detailed environmental impact assessment. Although Lynas claims to have plans to “recycle” the waste into industrial products, these plans have not been explained. Nor has Lynas identified permanent disposal grounds for the radioactive waste.

There have been reports in international press alleging shoddy design and building materials for the plant. A failure to build according to high standards and follow proper protocol, combined with the material contained within, makes such constructions ticking time bombs.

Mitsubishi’s now-defunct rare earth plant in Bukit Merah sets an alarming precedent. Two decades after ceasing operations, the plant is still in the process of being cleared of radioactive waste. While it was in operation, residents and plant workers faced various horrifying effects of radiation. The government’s decision to grant that plant a licence despite popular resistance caused needless suffering for a prolonged period of time to the community. Such a decision should not be repeated.

Man-made disasters affect women acutely because they intensify existing inequalities in terms of mobility and access to resources. As caregivers, many women bear the burden of supporting the victims of maldevelopment: children born with severe deformities, adults who develop cancer and other illnesses.

Indeed, such maldevelopment affects communities unequally; often it preys on the most vulnerable among us. It is no accident that plants such as this one are built away from centres of politics and affluence and high population density so there is little or no transparency of its operations to the local community.

All Malaysians stand in solidarity with the people of Gebeng and Pahang and for the basic principle that everyone should have the right to a decent life. The onus is on the government to provide a healthy, safe, and sustainable environment for all Malaysians.

Disasters like Chernobyl, Bhopal, or Bukit Merah were not inevitable, but the result of deliberate decisions to put short-term thinking of profits before longer-term concerns about our lives and environment.

Furthermore, it does not become a democratic government to ignore the thousands of protestors who have rallied, written complaints, and voiced consistent and popular objections against this plant.

JAG urges the government of Malaysia to withdraw the Lynas plant licence immediately.

  1. #1 by yhsiew on Wednesday, 7 March 2012 - 3:53 pm

    ///why is Malaysia going ahead with building this plant?///

    Could there be some private deals between Lynas and Malaysian negotiators?

  2. #2 by SENGLANG on Wednesday, 7 March 2012 - 4:37 pm

    Lynas is here to stay. It will stay in Kuantan and the waste also will be in Kuantan but not elsewhere. That is for sure.

    We have to understand how the BN government work. Before you realised, just out off no where the huge plant already completed. protest you may have and there will be business as usual.

    All actors and actress are all there. They are acting from day to day.

    Temporary or permanent license It is a licence to start the plant. They say the waste is to ship to Australia then but qualifying that statement by saying that IF Lynas can’t find a permanent disposal place in Malaysia?

    That the catch? If Lynas can not find a permanent place for disposal they will not come here.

    This people are not stupid. They have invested millions on the plant and it was here. By all mean they will stay here and start their business. The waste is also here to stay. Make no mistake on it.

  3. #3 by dagen wanna "ABU" on Wednesday, 7 March 2012 - 5:49 pm

    Lynas a ticking bomb?


  4. #4 by Jeffrey on Wednesday, 7 March 2012 - 7:06 pm

    JAG’s support for the Himpunan Hijau 2 is understandable. This is also a woman’s issue. This statement says it all :“As caregivers, many women bear the burden of supporting the victims of maldevelopment: children born with severe deformities, adults who develop cancer and other illnesses” (from radioactive materials). Women are a strong pressure group. Theoretically ½ of all voters are women and it is strong pressure on BN to listen provided it’s a united bloc cutting across all sections of women. Problem here is JAG cannot in this country be speaking for or representing many women. What about the the UMNO MCA or MIC Wanita Lot? In fact Shahrizat says that women voters will be the trump card in the coming general election and this trump card is hers to hold as Wanita UMNo chief and Women, Family and Community Development Minister! Then we have other groups for eg the female members of the Obedient Wives Club and their friends whom we cannot predict whether, other than the main agenda of satisfying their husbands, they have any opinion and stand on the Lynas issue and know anything of a “ticking bomb” except that of their husbands going off (whichever meaning one takes it)!

  5. #5 by Cinapek on Wednesday, 7 March 2012 - 7:39 pm

    “….If most governments around the world steadfastly refuse to build similar plants in their own countries despite the economic incentive to do so, why is Malaysia going ahead with building this plant?…”

    Good question. Why? Even their parent Govt Australia are not keen for them to locate their plant in Ozzie land and are strangely silent even if there are economic value for such a plant. Australia have a huge uninhabited outback many, many times the size of Malaysia,which would be a perfect location for such a plant. And a plant there will save Lynas huge transportation costs so all the more reason why come to Malaysia?

    And I question the economic benefit of such a plant. Apart from a few jobs and maybe some expatriate expenses in Kuantan, what sustainable upstream or downstream economic benefit does this plant contribute? Instead we may end up with a large tract of our land poisoned and the health of a large segment of its population ruined for years to come in return for a paltry investment.

    And if the Malaysian Govt is entertaining any thoughts of Lynas shipping the waste back to Australia, they are dreaming because Australia has categorically announced they will not allow any radioactive waste to be shipped to back to Australia. Which then begs the other question. If such waste are not welcomed in Australia why is our Govt so stupid to allow such a plant on our soil in the first place knowing full well that there will be radioactive waste generated which needs to be disposed off?

  6. #6 by Winston on Wednesday, 7 March 2012 - 9:00 pm

    “….If most governments around the world steadfastly refuse to build similar plants in their own countries despite the economic incentive to do so, why is Malaysia going ahead with building this plant?…”

    They are here because our government is very conducive to such projects although it spews words like caring, 1 this and 1 that etc.
    Another reason is perhaps Australia doesn’t want their country, especially their water table, to be contaminated.

  7. #7 by tak tahan on Wednesday, 7 March 2012 - 9:25 pm

    Wouldn’t it be gorgeous if our Mr and Mrs 1 would look like ‘see below yourself’-N tau bah and N tau soh.

  8. #8 by boh-liao on Thursday, 8 March 2012 - 1:57 am

    It’s 803 again! 1 year left 4 d next GE 2 b held: R rakyat/voters READY 2 vote ABU?

    Will some1 get a PhD (Hon) fr an Ozi university 4 locating Lynas rare earth plant in M’sia?

  9. #9 by k1980 on Thursday, 8 March 2012 - 7:26 am

    Even Coke and Pepsi can cause cancer, so why not radioactive waste from Lynas

  10. #10 by undertaker888 on Thursday, 8 March 2012 - 7:51 am

    Umno and bn would sell the mothers for profits, do you think they care about us? For those who kept supporting them, when the sad days visit your home, blame yourself for putting these evil hordes into power.

  11. #11 by dagen wanna "ABU" on Thursday, 8 March 2012 - 8:41 am

    Errr fat mama, is lynas a green development? If it is not, would we suddenly suffer a 10 ritcher scale earthquake and a disastrous tsunami and a devastating radioactive disaster like japan last yr?

  12. #12 by St Peter on Thursday, 8 March 2012 - 8:50 am

    PKR needs to get ready to build more graveyards for BN members, they are as WASTE and TOXIC as Lynas.

  13. #13 by cseng on Thursday, 8 March 2012 - 12:24 pm

    It was a ‘done deal’ from the very beginning, protest and write what you like, BN is all for Lynas.

    Ok, assuming all the gov agencies, the AELB, the DOE, the DOSH, the CIDB, the NISOSH and all the authorities concern, give you 100% guarantee Lynas is safe!. So, do you buy that?

    NO!, we suffered from Public Confidence Deficiency Syndrome!.. After decades of media control, Auditor General reports, TI ranking, MAS, NFC……

    I don’t know what rare-earth is, neither have I known Lynas. But, I do know, these BN guys cannot be trusted. For the sake of our children’s health, weI must say NO!.

  14. #14 by verlansiertan on Monday, 12 March 2012 - 10:57 pm

    Jibby & company claims its safe , so the plant should be relocated to putrajaya , wastes should be stored in AELB , Jib’s & other Minister’s office for safe keeping , officials could also keep a close watch ensuring Lynas follows the world’s & domestic strictest laws when operating till recycling of the radio active wastes…..

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