Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Malaysia Should not be Left with Lynas’ Toxic Radioactive Waste
for the sake of Foreign Direct Investment 



We, the undersigned civil society groups are deeply concerned that Malaysia is creating a second cancer-causing radioactive toxic legacy by Australia’s Lynas Corporation – at least 100 times bigger than that from Mitsubishi’s Asian Rare Earth in Bukit Merah. This is the second Japanese sponsored toxic legacy for Malaysia, facilitated by the ousted kleptocratic Najib Government, with the blessing of our Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and his Pakatan Harapan (PH) Cabinet.

We reiterate our strong position and appeal in our earlier memorandum to Tun and his Cabinet on Lynas dated 10th June 2019 to shut down Lynas immediately. Lynas is a single project junior mining company with a weak financial position due mainly to its predominantly low-value light rare earth mineral ore. Lynas has neither the intention nor financial means to store its toxic radioactive waste in a safe permanent disposal facility (PDF) away from its current flood and fire-prone peat mangrove swamp environment. Lynas has a massive debt burden made light only through the Japanese generous low-interest loan extension.

In pursue of profit, Lynas exploits Malaysia by playing politics and speculating on rare earth, backed by Japan due to the latter’s torrid relationship with China, its traditional rare earth supplier. For that, Malaysians are expected to endure its environmental pollution and public health hazards amounting to an increased risk of getting cancer for as long as its toxic radioactive waste remains in the country.
Lynas’ waste from the water-leached purification stream are contaminated with radionuclides at 1952ppm of long-live thorium and 29ppm of uranium respectively[1]; toxic heavy metals – 490ppm lead, 111ppm nickel, 795 ppm chromium, 8ppm cadmium and 2890ppm manganese[2]. Other hazardous contaminants are 13 ppm arsenic, mercury and copious amount of chemicals which can mobilise the radionuclides and heavy metals into the surrounding land and waters in times of floods due to Lynas’ inadequate waste storage facility.[3] Data from Lynas’ own monitoring stations have already showed serious contamination by lead, nickel, chromium and mercury since 2015. Lynas did not test for contamination by radionuclides even though IAEA has stressed the importance of doing that.

These are toxic substances that will bio-accumulate over a lifetime and contaminate the environment into the future to cause harms in Malaysia. Reputable health agencies including World Health Organisation (WHO) and the US Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) have warned against these toxic substances as they can cause cancer and/or fatal and chronic health problems when exposed in large enough quantity. The burden of costly legacy site clean-up and acute health care will unfairly fall onto Malaysians.

Worse, Malaysia will also bear the reputation as a convenient toxic waste dumping ground. As Lynas’ massive piles of wastes continue to rise into the otherwise tranquil and beautiful coastal skyline, people will be reminded of Tun’s and PH’s toxic legacy forever. For that, Lynas has enjoyed a 12-year tax holiday granted by the previous Najib Government blessed by the current PH regime despite the country’s heavy debt burdens and spiralling toxic pollution problems through decades of neglect and lax environmental law enforcement.

Malaysians have been bullied by the Australian High Commissioner and Lynas; and betrayed by our own Government. Lynas has violated its licence conditions and failed to firstly present a safe permanent disposal location and plan; and now reneged on its own undertakings made in 2012 to remove its radioactive and scheduled waste. If we call businesses that have brought in foreign rubbish into Malaysia traitors, then our regulators and those ministers who have backed Lynas instead of fulfilling their duty of care to uphold the law to enforce licence conditions on Lynas are no different. This systemic and systematic failures of our Government have now continued despite the historical change of Government last May.
Once again, we appeal and call on the Pakatan Harapan Government to:

· enforce the law and uphold MESTECC’s decisions from December 2018 by suspending Lynas’ waste storage licences immediately to prevent further generation of toxic radioactive waste since Australia has refused to accept this waste and Lynas has yet to manage its scheduled waste in accordance with Malaysian law. Lynas’ current inadequate waste storage facility at the back of its rare earth plant are contaminating the environment and waterways. It is inappropriately located in a low-lying peat mangrove swamp close to fishing communities and tourist resorts. This is unsafe and is against established international standards for radiation safety and protection;

· hold Lynas accountable for its massive radioactive waste problems and groundwater contamination it has caused in Malaysia by requiring Lynas to clean up the contamination and to prevent further environmental pollution in the interest of public health;

· independently carry out a full and comprehensive health risk assessment study of the implication of Malaysia ending up with the total quantity of Lynas’ wastes, especially its toxic thorium waste, immediately and before any further decision on licence renewal is made since this study should have been done even before Lynas is given its construction permit;

· to better understand the reputational risk to our agricultural produce from potential contamination of rare earth and other toxic elements;

· to study legacy and contamination site clean-up costs to ensure that Lynas bear that costs up-front; and

· carry out a full audit of Lynas’ financial viability in meeting its long-term waste management obligations and responsibilities.

We urge the Australian Government, especially the Australian High Commissioner in Kuala Lumpur to heed the facts that for decades, Malaysians have invested billions in Australia through property, businesses and sending hundreds of thousands of our best students to further their education in Australia. Many have stayed in Australia to contribute positively to the Australian economy and development. Malaysians have held Australia in high regard and yet the Australian High Commissioner continues to back Lynas to undermine efforts in Malaysia to push for law enforcement to improve our environmental governance when its own Western Australian Government has preferred Lynas to process its ore locally.

We call on the Australian Government to:

· cease exerting diplomatic pressure on Malaysia to accept Lynas’ radioactive toxic waste to pursue rare earth geopolitical advantages;

· withhold Lynas’ lanthanide concentrate export to Malaysia until Lynas has removed its WLP waste from Malaysia in accordance with its own undertakings in 2012 and managed its scheduled waste within Malaysian regulations.

· compel ASIC to enforce its ASX Corporate Governance Principles requiring corporations to act ethically and responsibly by requiring that Lynas adhere to its licence conditions and undertakings in the interest of Malaysian health and well being regardless of weaknesses of law enforcement by the Malaysian Government.

We would like to remind the High Commissioner of the message from a 2011 letter by then Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd who stated that “The Australian Government expects Australian companies to operate to high environmental and safety standards in their overseas operations as they would in Australia.” Yet Lynas has been contaminating groundwater since 2015 in accordance with its own ground monitoring data and reneged on its obligations and responsibility to abide by the IAEA recommendations and its licence conditions.
We also appeal and call on the Japanese Government to:

· compel Lynas to adhere to its undertakings to ensure that its toxic radioactive waste is removed from Malaysia, away from the low-lying peat mangrove and human settlement where it is stored at present;

· refrain from putting diplomatic pressure on Malaysia to accept Lynas' toxic radioactive waste irrespective of the Samurai bond extended b2y Japan to Malaysia to meet Malaysia’s budget expenses. The loan will be repaid through the hard work of Malaysian, in accordance with the loan terms. Our country and our people should not be made scapegoats of Japan’s geopolitical conflict with China;

· recognise that for as long as Lynas’ radioactive waste remains in Malaysia; its rare earth supply chain is tainted with no social licence to operate and cannot be considered green and clean. That will have reputational implication for any Japanese product made with Lynas’ rare earth elements, especially when China has since 2011 imposed stringent legal limits on its rare earth industry which Lynas would not be able to meet if it uses the same poor standard in Malaysia.

Using geopolitical pressure to force Malaysia to accept Lynas’ ra2dioactive waste for the private profit of an Australian company is immoral and politically corrupt. It is essentially subjecting citizens of a debt-ridden developing country to the double injustice of the severe impact of climate change on the one hand, and the hazards from the processing of rare earth minerals to feed the rising demand for low-emission technologies for the benefits of advanced industrialised nations that are largely responsible for the greenhouse gas emissions that have contributed to the problem of climate change in the first place.

Finally, we call on civil society the world over and concerned individuals to join us in our struggle for democratic governance and for a clean and safe future for Malaysia by:

· holding Australia’s Lynas Corporation accountable for its radioactive waste to prevent a second toxic legacy for Malaysia;

· expose Lynas for its dirty rare earth supply chains through transferring its hazardous mid-stream processing operations to Malaysia;

· ensuring that technical solutions for tackling climate change do not lead to developing countries copping double climate injustice such as that resulting from Lynas; and

· calling on UN agencies especially UNFCCC to ensure that low-emission technological solutions proposed for climate change mitigation and adaptation purposes have clean and green supply chains that do not lead to human rights violations

Signed and Endorsed by:





[1] Radionuclide concentration has been verified by the UKM study https://aip.scitation.org/doi/pdf/10.1063/1.4866110


[2] Concentration of heavy metals and arsenic is sourced from Table 1 of Lynas’ own Safety Case Analysis by Environ in 2011


[3] http://www.ukm.my/mjas/v22_n6/pdf/NurShahidah_22_6_6.pdf
LIST OF ENDORSERS

1. Save Malaysia Stop Lynas (SMSL)

2. Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM)

3. Consumers' Association of Penang (CAP)

4. Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)

5. Bersih 2.0

6. Malaysian Proressives in Australia (MPOZ)

7. Malaysia Nature Society Pahang

8. Himpunan Hijau

9. Gelombang Hijau

10. Greenpeace Malaysia

11. Agora Society Malaysia

12. Baramkini

13. North South Initiative

14. Citizens' Health Initiative

15. Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia (SABM)

16. Selamatkan Kuala Lumpur (SKL)

17. Young Malaysian Movement

18. Pertubuhan Komuniti Harap Kuantan

19. Persatuan Kebajikan Kemajuan Kampung Batu Hitam Kuantan Pahang

20. Otai Reformasi

21. KL & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH)

22. Jaringan Kampung Orang Asli Semenanjung Malaysia (JKOASM)

23. Save Malaysia Stop Lynas Segamat (SMSL Segamat)

24. Food Security and Sovereignty Forum Malaysia

25. Parti Sosialis Malaysia

26. Pertubuhan Solidariti Hijau Kuantan

27. Pertubuhan Gabungan Persatuan Cina Melaka

28. Persatuan Pukat Tunda Kuantan

29. Persatuan Prihatin Komuniti Pahang

30. Persatuan Amal dan Kasih Pahang

31. Pertubuhan Komuniti Semambu Kuantan

32. Persatuan I-Usaha Pahang

33. Persatuan Cerita Kuantan Pahang

34. Persatuan Prihatin Sungai Karang Pahang

35. Pertubuhan Kuantan Prihatin Negeri Pahang

36. Gabungan Persatuan-persatuan Tiong Hua

37. Pertubuhuan Kebajikan Kaum Hindu Daerah Kuantan

38. Kuantan Vipassana Meditation Association

39. Geha Bodhi Care Centre

40. Wen Chang Pahang Hainan Association

41. Persatuan Kebudayaan dan Kesenian Kempadang Kuantan

42. Kelab Sukan Rekreasi Kempedang Kuantan

43. Persatuan Prihatin Kuantan Timur

44. Persatuan Penduduk Taman Tanah Putih Baru Kuantan

45. Persatuan Kebudayaan Jing Wu Kuantan

46. Persatuan Prihatin Taman Impian Kuantan Pahang

47. Persatuan Eng Choon Kuantan

48. The Chinese Physicial & Druggists Association

49. Persatuan Perikanan Kuantan

50. Persatuan Bas Sekolah Daerah Kuantan

51. Persatuan Pembinaan Kuantan

52. Persatuan Penganut Dewa Xian Fa Shi Gong Kuantan

53. Persatuan Penyokong-penyokong Berhala Na Ca San Tai Chee Kuantan

54. Persatuan Penganut Taoisma Long Sheng Gong Kuantan Pahang

55. Pertubuhan Pencinta Muzik Kuantan Pahang

56. Persatuan Transformasi Wanita Milenium Pahang

57. Pertubuhan Aspirasi Pemimpin Muda Kuantan

58. Pertubuhan Warisan Anak Pahang

59. Persatuan Bakti Teguh Kuantan Pahang

60. Persatuan Nam Ann Kuantan

61. Persatuan Penyembelih-penyembelih dan Penjual Daging Kuantan

62. Persatuan Memperbaiki Akhlak Che Kuan Hor

63. Persatuan Penduduk IM 21

64. Persatuan Penganut Buddha Tyuk Hi Kung

65. Persatuan Kesenian Opera Cina Kuantan , Pahang

66. Persatuan Hokkien Kuantan

67. Persatuan Kwong Siew Kuantan

68. Persatuan Hakka Kuantan

69. Persatuan Foochow Pahang

70. Persatuan Fui Ciu Kuantan

71. Kelab Karete Pelindung

72. Persatuan Iban Marudi, Baram Sarawak(PIMB)

73. Persatuan penduduk Kampung Long Luyim, Sg.Pelutan Baram(PPKLLSPB)

74. Persatuan Penduduk Rumah Sengok Sg Binyok Pandan Sebauh Bintulu (PPRSBPSB)

75. Persatuan Penduduk Kampung Long Miri Baram (PPKLMB)

76. Persatuan Penduduk Kampung Sg Senga Sebauh Bintulu Sarawak (PPKSS)

77. Persatuan Penduduk Sungai Buri Bakong Marudi (PPSBBM)

78. Persatuan Penduduk kampung Long Pilah Telang Usan Miri (PPKLPTUM)

79. Persatuan Penduduk Kampung Long Tepen, Pelutan Baram(PPKLTPB)

80. Persatuan Penduduk Kampung long Daloh Sg Patah Baram (PPKLDSPB)

81. Persatuan Penduduk Sg Malikat Marudi Baram (PPSMMB)

82. Persatuan Penduduk Rumah Labang Nanga Seridan Tinjar Beluru Miri (PPRLNSTBM)

83. Persatuan Penduduk Rumah Lachi Anak Bikang Sebatuk Baru, Suai Niah

84. Persatuan Penduduk Sungai Tarak, Lubok Amam, Marudi (PPSTLA)

85. Persatuan Penduduk Kampung Uma Bawang

86. Persatuan Melayu Marudi (PMM)

87. IDRIS Association

88. Pertubuhan Aktivis Pengupayaan Insan (API)

89. Johor Yellow Flame (JYF)

90. Sunflower Electoral Education

91. 雪隆社区关怀协会 Persatuan Komuniti Prihatin Selangor & KL联署

92. 學樂書苑 happy learning books聯署

93. 馬大新青年 UMANY 聯署

94. 工大之聲 UTM-MJIIT Voices

95. 國大學生團結陣線 Student Unity Front UKM

96. 竞选盟母亲团 Mama Bersih

97. In Between Cultura 之間文化實驗室

(As at 24/07/2019 9.51AM)







Sunday, 21 July 2019

Press statement

NGOs say NO to Lynas’ toxic legacy -Malaysia must NOT renew Lynas’ licence to generate more toxic radioactive waste

21st July 2019




88 NGOs from all over Malaysia have so far signed onto a strongly worded petition demanding that Cabinet of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) Government NOT to renew the operating licence of the 100% Australian owned Lynas Advanced Materials Plant in Gebeng, near Kuantan in Pahang. More are expected to endorse the petition.

“We challenge any Minister and public servant wanting Lynas to continue operating in Malaysia to first fill their own backyard, then go and fill up Putrajaya and Pulau Langkawi with Lynas’ waste!”

“Lynas has misled Malaysia by giving two undertakings to remove its toxic radioactive waste from Malaysia even though Western Australia (WA) had made it clear back in 2011 that its waste would not be accepted into WA, where its Mount Weld mine is located. Now there are nearly half a million tonnes of waste sitting in inadequate storage dams that leak and overflow to contaminate our groundwater and the surrounding environment with nowhere to go.”

The waste stream known as water-leached purification (WLP) from Lynas’ contains long living low-level radioactive thorium which is a known cancer-causing substance. This waste is also contaminated with radioactive uranium, a range of toxic heavy metals, arsenic and a cocktail of chemicals.

Lynas’ own 2011 Safety Case Analysis report by Environ Consulting has stipulated that the WLP waste would be isolated from the biosphere in a permanent disposal facility away from the current site. Under the temporary licence conditions, a site for the PDF was to be found within ten months. In addition, about 1.2 million tonnes of Lynas’ scheduled waste has been stored on site against Malaysian regulations.

“Lynas has flaunted its licence conditions and its own undertakings including those in its Radioactive Waste Management Plan. Why have our regulators been so lenient with Lynas when Lynas enjoys a 12-year tax holiday for leaving us its toxic waste.?”

“We, the Rakyat, have work hard and pay our taxes to the Government. We expect a safe living environment and a hazard-free future for our family and future generations of Malaysians. We do not accept this raw toxic exploitation from Lynas.”

“Cabinet should take heed that Lynas’ financial position has always been precarious although it pays its executive staff fat salaries in AUD. Its ore consists mostly of light rare earth that is not worth much. Lynas could not even afford to pay Malaysia the US$50 million deposit in cash. Lynas has no intention to build a leak-proof PDF that can last at least 1,000 years appropriate for its thorium waste because it could not afford to do so.”

We do not want Lynas’ WLP waste to remain in Malaysia. Why should Malaysia sacrifice productive land to build Lynas’ mega-tomb for its toxic waste? Besides, the high risk of landslides and erosion in a wet tropical country like Malaysia makes it unsafe to house any toxic waste dump.”

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad made a surprise announcement while he was visiting Japan in late May that Malaysia would renew Lynas’ licence and that the radioactive waste should perhaps be spread out.

“Spreading out radioactive waste will expose more people to its hazards. Is Tun so obsessed with Lynas and its toxic investment that our health and our environment no longer matter to him?”

“We are appalled by the Flying Car Minister Mohd Redzuan Md Yusof advocating for Lynas to keep the toxic waste in Malaysia and more recently, the Bauxite Minister Xavier Jayakumar on rare earth heat wanting to exploit the country’s projected RM700 billion rare earth resources.”

“That RM700billion price tag is more like what Malaysia would have to pay to clean up Lynas’ mega toxic waste and spread-out contamination in 10 years’ time; to pay for the healthcare costs of rising cancer cases to be treated in our hospitals and the losses sustained by fishery and tourism industries due to Lynas’ piles of toxic wastes that have completely ruined the local economy.”

“We are alarmed by these ministers championing Lynas’ corporate profit at the expense of Malaysia’s environment and public health. We voted for PH on May 9 last year because we wanted a clean and sustainable Malaysia.”

“We welcome other groups to join us in our petition to demand Tun and his Cabinet to prioritised Malaysia and Malaysians FIRST instead of Lynas to keep Malaysia clean and green. Any group yet to sign onto our petition can contact SMSL, Greenpeace or any of the groups in the list to add onto our list. We will present the petition to Cabinet Ministers and MPs in the Parliament Caucus


For further comments, please contact:

· Mr Tan Bun Teet - Hp: +60 179 730 576

· Mr Heng KC Hp: +016 319 8278





LAMP - From an intact peat mangrove to a toxic industrial site





Peat fire near LAMP – June 2019





Key Facts on AELB’s Failures as a Regulator

· https://www.eco-business.com/news/lynas-bound-to-remove-all-residue/ Back in 2012, then Head of AELB “Raja Datuk Abdul Aziz Raja Adnan said Lynas was legally bound to ensure that all residue was removed and that AELB would enforce it”.

“Raja Datuk Abdul Aziz said the TOL approved to Lynas Malaysia was subject to the conditions imposed, including an additional two under subsection 32(5) of the Atomic Energy Licensing Act.”

· AELB failed to act on Lynas’ violation of licence conditions.

§ 1st February 2012 – AELB approved Lynas’s application for a Temporary Operating Licence (TOL) with a set of pre-conditions, and where necessary, to return the waste to its source – see TOL attachment for details. In truth, Lynas has never fulfilled conditions (i) to (iii) and AELB has never made public any detailed plan for the permanent disposal facility (PDF) including its location, even though a PDF was supposed to be finalised and approved within 10 months from the TOL.

§ AELB went ahead to issue Lynas with a Full-Stage Operating Licence (FSOL) in September 2014 and renew the FSOL in September 2016, still without any details of a PDF or any commercialisation possibility of Lynas’ wastes. DoE would have access to the ground water contamination monitoring data by then but it simply went along with the 3-year FSOL renewal.

AELB Failed to Follow Through Recommendations by the IAEA (related to the WLP waste)

The 2011 IAEA Mission report made it very clear that its assessment has been made specifically for consideration at the pre-operating licensing stage decision making, and cannot be relied on for subsequent stages of operations.

None of the IAEA Reports in 2011 or 2014 has concluded that the Lynas rare earth refinery operation is safe. In fact, IAEA made 11 recommendations for improvement from the 2011 review and made more suggestions from its 2014 follow up mission.

Listed here are examples of the findings, although this is not an exhaustive list. Many suggestions were made by the 2014 IAEA follow-up review mission as there were outstanding issues yet to be satisfactorily addressed by AELB and/or Lynas.

· IAEA’s reference to “low risk” applies to the plant and NOT the WLP waste. In any case the risk refers to cancer risk, a fatal illness which most sane people would do every thing to avoid getting.

· Page 7 of the 2014 IAEA Mission Report has highlighted AELB’s failure to ensure that Lynas’ WLP waste has a safe permanent disposal plan and that Lynas has not updated its Safety Case Analysis of its inadequate WLP waste storage. A Safety Case is a critical aspect of graded approach to radiation safety and protection

· Page 11 of the 2014 IAEA report was scathing of Lynas’ public relation exercise by installing useless radioactivity reading displays instead of seriously monitoring radioactivity of the wastewater discharged from the LAMP into the Balok River.

· Page 9 to 12 outline the incomplete radiological monitoring effort of Lynas and 3 further suggestions for Lynas to improve on its environmental radioactivity monitoring, especially of the aquatic pathway; to provide more detailed modelling of the ecological and public health impacts of radioactive effluents to the Balok River

· Page 13 highlights IAEA’s dissatisfaction with AELB’s poor efforts and basis used to determine and recover from Lynas costs of long-term management of waste including decommissioning and remediation. AELB’s failure will lead to undue financial burden being passed onto Malaysians in the future.

· In page 18, IAEA further emphasized the need for AELB and Lynas to be transparent with the licensing process and to regularly provide updated online information by making key documents accessible to the public.

· In page 20, IAEA suggested that Lynas engaged pro-actively with a wide range of stakeholders including its opponents; and to make available online monitoring data to the public.



Weblinks for the IAEA Reports are as follows:

https://www.australianmining.com.au/news/increase-safety-measures-at-lynas-rare-earths-plant-iaea-say/

https://www.iaea.org/.../news/malaysian-government-releases-iaea-report-lynas-project

https://www.iaea.org/sites/default/files/lynas-report-20052015.pdf