Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) Calls For Lynas Corporation Investigation To Start Immediately

Reuters pic.

Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) calls on the energy, science, technology, environment and climate change ministry (Mestecc) to expedite the investigations into Lynas Corporation Sdn Bhd’s operations 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’ Andansura Rabu, reported in the media on Sept 21, claiming that the plant “is safe” and should be allowed to operate freely.

SAM is most disturbed by the Beserah 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 for 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 it had on the Bukit Merah community in Ipoh, Perak, as a result of the activities of the Asian Rare Earth (ARE) plant in the early 1990s.

In fact, the dangers of such wastes, which remain radioactive for billions of years, were referred to recently by Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad and was among the reasons for rejecting nuclear power in the country.

The prime minister referred to the Bukit Merah case and how Malaysia lost 1 sq km of land in Perak to bury the wastes “under thick cement to prevent radiation from affecting people” and, despite this, the area is still unsafe.

SAM wholeheartedly supports the federal government’s decision not to use nuclear energy as there are no safe ways to dispose of and manage such radioactive wastes.

We must learn from the Bukit Merah experience, as Mahathir 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 plans 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 Bentong MP Wong Tack 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 which 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.

SM Mohamed Idris is the president of Friends of the Earth Malaysia

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.

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