Tuesday, 11 June 2019


Lynas poses risk of another 80’s radioactive tragedy, says green group

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) has warned of a repeat of the Bukit Merah tragedy if the government exempts Lynas Malaysia from laws to control radioactive waste.

Jehan Bakar, who heads the Pahang chapter of MNS, said the people of Kuantan were at risk of suffering the kind of contamination that affected the people of Bukit Merah in the 1980s.

Large amounts of thorium hydroxide were discovered in 1984 in Papan, a village just outside Bukit Merah. Investigations revealed that the radioactive waste originated from a rare earth factory set up in 1979.

Children in the area were found to have high levels of lead in their blood. Clinical tests found that some of them had cancer and auto-immune diseases.

“Do we never learn from history?” said Jehan.

“Lynas needs to clean up its act. Otherwise it will be Bukit Merah all over again.”

She alleged that Lynas was in violation of a licensing regulation requiring it to dispose of radioactive waste within a year of its production.

“It has five to six years’ worth of waste behind its plant now,” she told FMT. “Why is it getting special treatment?”

She said Lynas, “with more than one billion tonnes of waste aged more than 180 days” stored behind the factory, was defying the Environmental Quality Regulations (Scheduled Waste) of 2005, which limits the quantity to 20 tonnes and the storage period to 180 days.

“They get 12 years of tax relief, and they get to flout our laws,” she added.

She rejected Lynas’ proposal for the recycling of the waste, saying it should not be used in public areas because of its radioactive nature.

Jehan also alleged that the Department of Environment was not doing its job as a protector of the environment. “It’s more of an enabler or accessory to a corporation.”

She urged the people of Kuantan to refuse to let others decide what would be in their backyard, and voiced support for Kuantan MP Fuziah Salleh for her consistent statement against allowing Lynas to continue operating in the country.

Another environmentalist, Anthony Tan, described the waste from the Lynas plant as a ticking bomb.

“It may take five years, it may take 100 years for health signs to manifest, but radioactive waste is radioactive waste,” he said.

Asked to comment on suggestions that the waste be used as fertiliser, he said Australia, Lynas’ home country, should take the lead.

“Let them use the fertiliser widely in Australia first,” he said.

Last month, Dr Mahathir Mohamad said Malaysia would allow Lynas to keep operating its rare earth processing plant in Gebeng, which lies on the outskirts of Kuantan.

The prime minister’s statement removed the uncertainty over the future of the US$800 million plant after Malaysia halted the process for renewal of its licence.


Fuziah: Lynas not in the clear over dangerous residue just yet

Lynas Malaysia Sdn Bhd is not in the clear over producing dangerous residue just yet, according to Kuantan MP Fuziah Salleh.

Fuziah said this is because groundwater contamination detection requires a "protracted, regular and technically reliable independent monitoring strategy".

"A conclusion can only be made with a high level of statistical confidence based on multiple and repeated samples taken across seasons to adjust for possible seasonal effects," she said in a statement today.

"This kind of pollution has very serious public and environmental health implications in the long run."

Fuziah was responding to Lynas claiming last week that its critics were proven wrong in saying that its Gebeng operations produced a dangerous residue.

This followed Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Dr Xavier Jayakumar saying last month that the groundwater around the Lynas plant is no longer polluted by heavy metals.

Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Ministry deputy secretary-general Nagulendran Kangayatkarasu also said the spike in heavy metal readings in the groundwater around the Gebeng plant did not originate from Lynas.

"These statements are consistent with Lynas Malaysia's own groundwater monitoring and analysis," the company insisted.

In her statement, Fuziah said Lynas has persistently denied that its operations have caused serious heavy metal contamination – even when data taken over a 12-month period from September 2015 from its own groundwater monitoring stations have shown otherwise.

“Of course, Lynas would never have admitted to the contamination, because if it does, then it will be liable for this pollution.

"As a speculative rare earth junior mining company, its future lies in its ability to mask the real problems it is facing in Malaysia," she said.

"Simply branding people who have raised concerns about its pollution and waste as activists underestimates the many experts from different fields whom I have met over the years.

"These are highly skilled educated professionals with post-graduate qualifications from various reputable universities in Malaysia and from advanced industrialised countries overseas.

"They have given their pro bono professional advice out of their sense of duty to the country and for our rakyat and because they feel that Malaysia deserves the truth and environmental justice."

Fuziah also pointed out that Lynas' waste contains naturally occurring radioactive materials (Norm), which is considered radioactive in Australia.

“Many poisons are naturally occurring also, and if any of it is released into our environment or our body, we will be poisoned.

"The same logic can be applied to Lynas’ Norm waste," she said.

Thursday, 6 June 2019


Lynas, a betrayal of trust

Dennis Ignatius
- June 7, 2019 10:00 AM

Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s recent announcement in Tokyo that “Lynas will be allowed to carry on” regardless of whether the Australian company removes its radioactive waste from Malaysia came as a shock and disappointment to many Malaysians. Instead of insisting that Lynas remove the more than 450,000 tonnes of dangerous waste it has accumulated thus far in Gebeng (in violation of local regulations), Mahathir generously gave the company a free pass by offering to “spread” the waste around Malaysia!

It is, by all counts, a stunning betrayal and a shameful capitulation to Australian pressure. It prioritises profits ahead of the health of ordinary Malaysians and recklessly endangers our environment. Furthermore, it makes a mockery of the sterling efforts of our environment minister to ensure that Malaysia does not become Australia’s garbage dump.

People before profit

Mahathir’s main argument is that Malaysia cannot afford to lose the huge investment that Lynas represents; the more critical issue, however, is whether Malaysia can afford the huge health and environmental risks that Lynas clearly poses.

Lynas should never have been allowed to set up shop in Malaysia in the first place. If it was such a great project, why didn’t Lynas build its plant in Australia itself where the rare earth ores are mined?

Is it mere coincidence that the company chose to locate their hazardous processing facility in a country with less onerous environmental regulations than their own, with less effective enforcement and with a political system that can be easily manipulated?

It is telling (as Wong Tack, the MP for Bentong, pointed out in his recent letter to the Australian high commissioner), that since setting up shop here, Lynas has violated a whole range of environmental regulations from storing radioactive waste in the open to storing more than the permissible amount of dangerous waste. And yet, our regulators and politicians continue to bend over backwards to appease them. No wonder they love it here!

Whichever way you look at it, the growing stockpile of radioactive waste is a ticking time bomb; the longer it remains in Malaysia, the greater the danger it poses. It is simply irresponsible to allow such massive quantities of dangerous material to accumulate without a clear and safe plan for its disposal.

Of course, Lynas likes to tout the potential commercialisation of its waste including its application to enhance crop productivity and in construction. Its claims are, however, premature at best; no one really knows the long-term impact of using recycled radioactive waste in agriculture. Again, if it is such a great breakthrough, Lynas should test it out in Australia itself instead of using the people of Malaysia as their guinea pigs.

Absurd and flippant

Given the enormous risks involved, Mahathir’s suggestion to “spread [the radioactive waste] around somewhere so as not to have concentrated radioactive material in one place” is flippant, outrageous and ill-conceived. Where does he plan to spread the waste anyway? In Langkawi? Or perhaps a site might be found in Putrajaya, leadership by example and all that.

And, by offering the Australians a way out ahead of scheduled negotiations on the issue, Mahathir has undercut the efforts of his own environment minister to persuade Australian authorities to accept the waste. Why would Australia, which has always been reluctant to accept back the waste, now want to do so when Mahathir has made it clear that the company’s licence will be renewed regardless? Indeed, Australian authorities are now saying that Minister Yeo Bee Yin would be “wasting her time” visiting Australia to discuss the matter.

Another toxic legacy?

In 1982, another foreign rare earth manufacturer (Mitsubishi Chemical Industries) came in with all the right assurances, telling us how safe and wonderful their operations would be and how great it would be for the economy, only to leave behind a mammoth radioactive mess we are still dealing with decades after the plant closed.

Our politicians and regulators then were taken in by all those assurances; the people of Bukit Merah ended up paying a high price for their folly with leukaemia and birth defects. We must not make the same mistake again. The Bukit Merah disaster took place under Mahathir’s first term as prime minister; he must not leave another toxic legacy behind for future generations.

Every Malaysian who cares about our environment and the health and well-being of future generations must strenuously oppose this inane and insane decision by the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government to allow Lynas to continue operating in Malaysia regardless of whether it removes its radioactive waste. The removal of every last ounce of Lynas’ toxic waste from our country as well as full and immediate compliance with all our environmental and health regulations should be non-negotiable. If PH cannot defend our rights, they no longer deserve our support.

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

Sunday, 2 June 2019


Yeo clarifies Dr M’s remarks on Lynas, stresses waste must be shipped out

KUALA LUMPUR, May 31 — Minister Yeo Bee Yin today has clarified that Australian rare earth refiner Lynas Corp will still have to resolve the issue of radioactive waste produced at its plant in Pahang before it is allowed to continue operations.

Yeo, who is minister of energy, science, technology, environment and climate change, clarified the reported remarks made by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in Japan yesterday regarding the Lynas plant.

Yeo suggested that the reports on Dr Mahathir’s remarks may not have focused on his actual stand on the matter.

“Actually today I saw the (video) clip of Dr Mahathir’s interview, then I realised actually his position is, Lynas has to ship out its waste, his answer was very long, most of the time he was talking about waste, but unexpectedly the focus was blurred, so actually the government is still very concerned about the issue of waste,” she said in an interview during 8TV’s Global Watch programme last night.

In the interview that was conducted in Mandarin, Yeo also revealed that the Cabinet had on Wednesday decided to have her meet with Australian government officials to have face-to-face talks regarding the Lynas issue.

“Yesterday, the Cabinet decided to let me go personally to Australia,” she said, adding that Malaysia is awaiting a response from Australia for the scheduling of meeting date.

Noting that both Australia’s federal and state ministers have the power to issue permits required for the shipping of wastes back to the country, Yeo said she would be meeting with the relevant state minister.

When asked to confirm that the government has yet to decide on allowing Lynas to continue operations in Malaysia, Yeo said: “I think this will have to wait for me to come back from Australia, then only there can be a report and to let the Cabinet to decide.”

“To me, most importantly, the waste issue has to be resolved because everyone’s concern is how the waste issue will be resolved,” she added.

Yesterday, Dr Mahathir was reported as saying that the government will renew Lynas’ operating licence in Malaysia.

In the interview late last night, Yeo also explained the importance of dealing with the waste produced by the Lynas plant in Gebeng, Pahang.

“Now we must work hard to get the waste shipped out, because if the waste is not shipped out, the safer way to deal with it is a permanent disposal facility in a land, after closing it, this land will permanently be unusable.

“Tun Mahathir, when he was in Japan, he also spoke about this, about cracking and leaching, he also spoke about it,” she said.

She noted that Malaysia and China are the only two countries in the world with rare earth refineries due to environmental protection laws elsewhere, highlighting Malaysia’s unique position globally of having a rare earth refinery with materials shipped in.

“So now we also hope to learn from China’s experience, how do they deal with this waste, because it’s not from our country,” she said.

“Outside of China, Malaysia is actually the only one to have rare earth refinery.

“When the previous government agreed, they actually did not think the waste produced would be so much and they agreed,” she said when noting why the previous administration under Barisan Nasional approved the setting up of the Lynas plant in Pahang.

Yeo said that Malaysia would like all rare earth refiners including Lynas to separate their refining process, with the process that produces radioactive waste to be first done in their home country.

“The first process is cracking and leaching, that should be done at the mining place and the radioactive waste be kept at the mine. And the intermediate, the clean one, can be shipped here to be refined, that way, the waste produced by all refinery plants in Malaysia won’t be this. This is something we must have as a condition,” she said.

When asked again if there would still be possible changes in the matter of Lynas’ operating licence renewal, Yeo said: “If they want to renew their licence, they must quickly solve the problem, they must ensure their future refining will not have radioactive materials.”

Shipping back waste a pre- condition

KUANTAN: The shipping back of radioactive waste produced by Lynas Malaysia Sdn Bhd (Lynas), is a pre-condition for the renewal of its operating licence, said Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Fuziah Salleh.She said this stand was made by Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin, who issued a clear directive that Lynas must send the waste to the country of origin which is Australia. “I also was made to understand that Yeo will go to Australia in mid-June to discuss the return of the radioactive waste from the Lynas Plant in Gebeng, Pahang. “Malaysians should give space to the minister to find a way to realise the pre-condition, and the people should continue to pressure Lynas to be responsible for its radioactive waste, without any compromise,” Fuziah, who is also Kuantan MP, said in a statement here Friday.

She stressed Lynas should uphold their written agreement in 2012 to return the waste to Australia. Fuziah was of the opinion that the media did not report on the statement by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in Japan yesterday in detail but resorted to sensationalism. “The media only reported a part of the Prime Minister’s speech, which touched on the investment and licensing aspect only, without linking it to the radioactive waste,” she said.

At the Foreign Correspondents Club in Tokyo yesterday, Dr. Mahathir said Malaysia will allow Australia’s rare earth plant, Lynas Corp, to continue operating in the country. The Prime Minister’s announcement ended uncertainties that have bogged down the future of the US$800 million (RM3.35 billion) Lynas plant in Gebeng, following a temporary suspension on its operating licence renewal. – Bernama


Aussie firm drops Lynas takeover bid, says report

PETALING JAYA: An Australian conglomerate, Wesfarmers, is reported to have dropped a takeover bid for the controversial rare earths mineral producer Lynas Corporation, according to a news report.

The Australian newspaper, quoting sources, said Wesfarmers had walked away from the deal, although the company had indicated it remains a suitor.

News of the Wesfarmers decision comes a week after Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad hinted that Lynas would be able to continue operating its controversial processing plant in Kuantan beyond the expiry of its licence in September.

In March, Wesfarmers had made a hostile bid, offering A$2.25 per share for Lynas, subject to renewal of the Lynas licence. The deal was worth A$1.5 billion (RM4.4 billion). The Lynas board had rebuffed the offer.

Since Mahathir’s announcement, Lynas share prices have soared in Australia, closing at A$3.05 on Friday, way above the Wesfarmers offer.

Also helping the share price higher was the chance that China would cut off its exports of rare earths to the US amid rising trade tensions between the two, the report said.

Besides the Lynas bid, Wesfarmers had also approached the Malaysian government about solutions for disposing of waste at the plant by transporting it to Australia, and made an attempt to buy another rare earths producer, Kidman Resources, for A$776 million, the report said.

Why Lynas’ radioactive wastes should not be recycled and ‘spread out’ in the Malaysian general environment — Chan Chee Khoon

MAY 31 — At the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan (FCCJ) on May 30, 2019, Tun Dr Mahathir made perhaps unscripted remarks about ‘spreading out’ the radioactive solid wastes from Lynas’ rare earths refinery at Gebeng, presumably to re-dilute its radioactive content closer down to baseline (background) radioactivity levels.

From the epidemiological (population health) perspective, this is not advisable, and here’s the reason why.

The 2006 US National Academy of Sciences Biologic Effects of Ionizing Radiation (BEIR) VII report is an authoritative source which endorses the linear no-threshold (LNT) model of a linear and causal relationship between ionizing radiation and human cancer risk. The LNT model accepts that radiation at all levels confer proportionate risk of cancer and explicitly excludes a threshold below which radiogenic cancer risk disappears. In simple language, cancer risk doesn’t vanish to zero, even at very low (close to zero) doses of radiation.

The way epidemiologists and radiation safety specialists calculate the expected number of radiation-caused cancers of, say leukemia, is to multiply the dose by the expected number of leukemia cases per unit dose in the dose-response relationship of the LNT model.

The BEIR VII report has done that for the US population.

The current allowable radiation exposure endorsed by International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) is 1 mSv per year above natural background levels, for the general public. (The average dose worldwide from natural background radiation is approximately 2.4 mSv per year https://nuclearsafety.gc.ca/eng/resources/fact-sheets/natural-background-radiation.cfm)

The BEIR VII report estimates that a lifetime cumulative dose of 100mSv would cause an additional 100 leukemia cases from a population of 100,000 males. In the absence of radiation exposure, the lifetime tally of leukemia cases (from other causes) would be 830. In other words, the lifetime risk of leukemia is increased by about 12 percent as a result of lifetime radiation doses accumulated from exposures at levels close to the current allowable limits. The corresponding figures for females are 70/590, i.e. a similar 12 percent increase in risk of leukemia http://dels.nas.edu/resources/static-assets/materials-based-on-reports/reports-in-brief/beir_vii_final.pdf

For this reason, it is little comfort to know that if Lynas’ radioactive solid wastes are recycled as ingredients for road base, cement and other construction materials, fertilizers, Condisoil, etc and ‘spread out’, communities nationwide will be incrementally exposed to low-level radiation at doses comparable to background exposures.

Western Australia's Mines, Petroleum, Energy and Industrial Relations Minister Bill Johnston in effect conceded as much when he said: "Generally speaking, the best place for contaminated material is where it comes from, which in this case would be in the mine void [i.e. sequestered away from possibility of human exposures], but we are not going to take mine waste back from overseas”.

We urgently need Tun Dr Mahathir’s recalcitrant streak.

*Prof Dr Chan Chee Khoon is a consultant and health policy analyst at the Department of Social & Preventive Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya.

Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad has said Malaysia must look to alternative means of dealing with the buildup of Lynas waste should negotiations for Australia to take it back fail.

He suggested “spreading” out the Water Leach Purification (WLP) waste from the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP) in Gebeng, Kuantan, instead of letting it concentrate in one area.

WLP waste comprises residue that contains naturally occurring radioactive material.

“Since Lynas produces radioactive material, we wanted them to ship out the radioactive material, back to the country where the raw material comes from, but the country doesn't want to accept it. But we are going to talk to them.

“But if we fail, we need to do something with the raw material, maybe spreading it somewhere, so as not to have concentrated radioactive material in one place,” the premier said during a press conference in Tokyo yesterday.

Despite this, he added that Malaysia was going to have to allow LAMP operations to proceed, or risk losing “a very big investment from Australia”.

Mahathir explained that Malaysia was being cautious as it had has some bad experience with radioactive waste in the past.

“In the past, a certain byproduct of tin mining was used in order to produce colour television. But to do that, they have to activate the material and become radioactive. Now, of course, colour televisions don't use that material anymore. They use LED. So what do we do with the waste that had been activated?

“We had a tough time talking with the business people; eventually, we agreed that we should bury the waste. So a one-km square of land was dedicated to burying these products. Since then, we don't like radioactive material,” he said.

He was referring to tin tailings, or amang, which contain heavy metals.

It was reported yesterday that the prime minister, during the same press conference, had said Malaysia was most likely going to renew the operating licence of the rare earth processing plant.

This marked a shift in Malaysia’s stance as the latter had previously instructed Lynas to send its stockpile of WLP - currently over 451,654 tonnes - to Australia by Sept 2, when its temporary storage licence is up for renewal.

This was one of two preconditions set by the Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Ministry; the other being that the company must submit an action plan on the disposal of its accumulated non-­­radioactive neutralisation un­­derflow residue (NUF).Its minister Yeo Bee Yin will reportedly travel to Australia to lead discussions over Lynas.

Lynas’ shares had soared of late following the threat by China, currently the world’s largest producer of rare earth minerals, to hold back exports to the United States as part of the trade war.

In a statement today, Kuantan MP Fuziah Salleh chastised yesterday’s media reports on Mahathir’s statement.

She said most reports only mentioned the premier’s statement regarding the renewal of Lynas’ licence and Australia’s “investments” but failed to include his statements pertaining to the need to manage the radioactive waste.

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

Memorandum to Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir and Cabinet Ministers

Protect Malaysia and Stop Lynas from Polluting Our Environment

We, the undersigned NGOs and concerned individuals call on the Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Climate Change (MESTECC) Yeo Bee Yin and Jawatankuasa Kaukus Parlimen Pantau Lynas (Parliamentary Caucus on Lynas) and all Cabinet Ministers to:

· Suspend Lynas’ operating licence to STOP Lynas polluting our precious environment and exposing the public to Lynas’ hazards for now and for future generations

· ENSURE that Lynas has a timeline to ship out the toxic waste before the expiry of its operating licence in mid-September

· Do not approved of Lynas’ application to turn its current waste storage site as a prescribed premise for its scheduled waste

· A high populated heavy rainfall wet tropical country like Malaysia cannot afford to sacrifice hundreds of hectares of precious land and pristine forest to create another risky tomb to isolate Lynas’ half a million tonnes of toxic waste

· ENSURE that the promised US$50 million deposit from Lynas is paid in full in cash, just in case Malaysia ends up having to carry out the Lynas clean up exercise.

Lynas is a 100% Australian-owned junior mining company that places profit before ethics, public and environmental health. It has denied scientific truth about the hazards from its waste and effluent, leaving them to pollute our environment since production started in 2012. A responsible Government would have shut down the plant, imposed heavy fine and ordered the company to remove its waste and clean up its contamination to as far as it has spread from the environment. Lynas’ hazards are cancer-causing radioactive thorium and uranium, toxic elements consist of heavy metals, arsenic and chemicals found in its toxic waste that should have been isolated from the environment.

We welcome Tun’s recent announcement to impose a new condition requiring Lynas to only bring in radioactive-free semi-processed feedstock for refining at its Malaysian plant. However, we are deeply concerned that despite Lynas’ own monitoring data showing that serious toxic heavy metals have contaminated our ground water since 2015, no action has been taken to stop these cancer-causing elements from entering our environment as Lynas continues with its operations to generate these hazards.

Our Regulators Have FAILED in their Duty of Care

Our regulators namely Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) and Department of Environment (DoE) have both failed in their duty of care to act in their mandated roles to enforce the law. No other business in the world have been allowed to store over 450,000 tonnes of toxic waste in the open wrapped up only with plastic sheets! No other business in Malaysia has been allowed to accumulate nearly 1.2 million tonnes of scheduled waste on site when our regulation has limited onsite storage of not more than 20 tonnes for up to 180 days! No decent regulator would remain silent and not verify the source or cause of serious toxic heavy metal contamination of the ground water when data from 2015-2016 have shown this problem, when 50 families in the local area are dependent on ground water for their daily uses.

Instead, these public funded ‘regulators’ have continued to sing praises to protect Lynas, despite scientific facts and data showing that Lynas’ waste disposal site is problematic as it is in a flood and fire prone low-lying porous peat mangrove with ground water table less than 1 metre from the surface. They have failed to critically verify Lynas’ misleading and false claims of zero harm and international best practice, putting our environment and local people at risk.

Lynas is a Liability for Malaysia

Ultimately, rakyat of Malaysia will end up paying for the Government’s failure in stopping this toxic rerun. Lynas’ toxic legacy will be many times far more costly than the Bukit Merah Asian Rare Earth legacy as the amount of radioactive and toxic waste generated has already exceeded that from ARE by 40 times. Malaysia will end up coping the high costs of cleaning up the Lynas toxic legacy site, deteriorating health outcomes of local people requiring expensive medical care when they start to suffer from known diseases associated with the kind of hazards Lynas has generated, which often take many years of bioaccumulation to manifest into chronic health conditions both for humans and the environment.

The quantity of thorium, uranium, heavy metals, toxic elements and chemicals in Lynas’ wastes pose significant hazards to require their total removal from Malaysia to avoid costly health and environmental disasters which often take a long time to surface for this kind of pollution. The paltry US$50 million Lynas has committed to the de-commissioning fund will not be enough to clean up the mess 40 times more than that generated by Mitsubishi’s Asian Rare Earth plant in Bukit Merah. Lynas’ attempt to make its current storage facility a permanent dump site in a peat swamp is grossly irresponsible given the serious contaminations problems that have already occurred.

Sustainable Investments Stem from Good Governance and Effective Administration

We recognise and acknowledge that Malaysia needs foreign investment. It is therefore even more pertinent that we present our beloved country as a conducive place to responsible corporations/companies to do business and operate in, based on good governance, high level of professionalism in our dealings and integrity in the way we conduct businesses. Malaysia will be an attractive investment destination if our Government uphold the law and restore order to create a fair and equal playing field for all. The PH Government has the power to make this happen.

MESTECC’s decision requiring Lynas to remove its toxic waste from the water-leached purification (WLP) stream is merely to hold Lynas accountable to its own undertakings made in 2012 to the then BN Government. By continuing to tolerate Lynas’ massive piles of wastes, we are sending the wrong signal that Malaysia is a third world nation desperate for toxic trade and polluting industries. In so doing, Malaysia has essentially undermined and disadvantaged many other responsible businesses that have taken pride in abiding to our environmental law and regulation through genuine actions to protect our environment and public health.

As civil society groups and individuals. we too have been particularly patient and tolerant, giving benefits of the doubt to the PH Government which we have helped put into power last May, We have largely held in good faith that PH Ministers and MPs would concertedly tackle the Lynas toxic waste problems to protect Malaysia and the Rakyat from its radioactive and toxic hazards.

Sustainable Development is a PH Promise to the Rakyat

We wish to remind all Ministers and Members of Parliaments of the Pakatan Harapan Manifesto, which your respective Party has signed onto before GE14. Janji/Promise 39 of the Manifesto stipulated that "Balancing the Development with Environmental Protection". Therefore, development decision from the PH Cabinet must lead to the security and well-being of the people and our environment.

Lynas is a poisoned chalice from the Najib era. It has no place in Malaysia and least of all if PH is committed to pursuing a sustainable development future. Sustainable development as promised in the PH Manifesto is only possible if the Government upholds our own law to restore order. Many of us have contributed and campaigned for PH to be elected.

Tun, we supported your leadership because we trust that you will act in Malaysia’s interest and that you will uphold your words to undo past mistakes. Lynas is a major mistake committed by the Najib regime. We now count on all of you whom we have voted into power, to right this wrong to pave the way for Malaysia to pursue a new clean and safe sustainable pathway of development.

MEDIA RELEASE | Wednesday 10th April, 2019

Australian environmental groups call for Lynas to deal with waste

Today, environmental and social justice organisations in Australia lend their support in solidarity with Malaysians. They demand that the Australian-owned rare earth miner, Lynas Corporation stop polluting Malaysia with its toxic radioactive waste, for its permit not to be renewed, and to start cleaning up the mess it has created.

“It is shameful that Lynas has taken advantage of the previous Malaysian Government, including a 1-year tax break, to speed up the approvals process in constructing and operating its rare earth processing plant, the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP). This was done without any detailed environmental impact assessment report, this would be completely unacceptable in Australia,” claimed Natalie Lowrey1, Stop Lynas Campaign Australia.

“The key problem with rare earth minerals1 is the very low concentration of the minerals in the ore and the presence of thorium and uranium radionuclides, together with toxic heavy metals and arsenic.”

“Such toxic substances, most of which are cancer-causing agents, are being left behind in the waste and effluent at the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant in Kuantan, Malaysia. There are also issues with the harsh reagent and corrosive acids used in the processing stages.”

Last May, a new Government came into power promising to fight corruption and bring in sweeping reforms for the country. A Ministerial Decision has been made following an executive review on Lynas to enforce the licence condition which Lynas has yet to follow through.

Dr Jim Green, National Nuclear Campaigner, Friends of the Earth Australia stated, “Malaysians have waged a mass movement for years to stop Lynas getting its operating license. The previous controversial Najib-run Government went ahead with the licence when Lynas gave the undertaking to remove its radioactive waste from Malaysia in December 2012.”3,4

“Lynas scammed its way to get the operating licence knowing full well that its radioactive waste had no safe long-term disposal plan. By putting the horses before the cart, Lynas has caused serious groundwater contamination, exposing the local community to its hazards.”5

“Lynas should start a proper clean-up of the contaminated groundwater and any pollution it is responsible for. Without any plan to deal with the waste, the Malaysian Government should seriously consider not renewing Lynas permit in September this year.”

Ms Lowrey, Stop Lynas Campaign Australia continued, “This is a gross violation of Lynas Corporations corporate environmental and social responsibility. The Lynas toxic supply chains are reasons why, as environmental groups, we have to be vigilant when recommending and promoting technological fixes as a solution to climate change. Profit-hungry corporations will always find loopholes to seek profit, by pushing their dirty operations to countries with the least means to tackle the complexities and hazards of industrial pollution.”

“Australia should legislate to have binding corporate regulation over Australian operations overseas. We have seen far too many mining disasters in developing countries with limited means to deal with.”

“It is way overdue for the Australian Government to clean up the Australian mining sector to stop them from tarnishing Australia’s reputation through gross violations and polluting activities overseas.”

For more info:

Natalie Lowrey, Stop Lynas Campaign Australia





1. ‘Arrests at Malaysian Rare Earths Refinery Protests’, The Diplomat, 27 June 2017, https://thediplomat.com/2014/06/arrests-at-malaysian-rare-earths-refinery-protests/

Rare earth minerals are essentially raw materials for the digital and high technology industries, including supposedly ‘green’ or ‘smart’ technologies. This set of minerals are neither rare nor earth.
‘Joint Ministerial Statement on Lynas’, by YB. Dato’ Sri Mustapa Mohamed, Minister of International Trade and Industry YB. Datuk Seri Panglima Dr. Maximus Johnity Ongkili, Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation YB. Dato’ Sri Douglas Uggah Embas Minister of Natural Resources and Environment YB. Dato’ Sri Liow Tiong Lai Minister of Health, 22 February, 2012, http://www.kats.gov.my/ms-my/pustakamedia/Kenyataan%20Media/Press%20Statement%20-%20Joint%20Ministerial%20Statement%20on%20Lynas.pdf.
‘Joint Ministerial Statement on Lynas’, Ministry of International Trade and Industry, 12 Dec 2012, http://www.aelb.gov.my/malay/dokumen/kenyataan-akhbar/10122012.pdf
Since 2013, Lynas has started to generate a massive amount of waste through its Malaysian plant located in a low-lying peat mangrove reserve near the port of Kuantan in Malaysia. To date, about half a million tonnes of waste contaminated with hundreds of thousands of tonnes of long-living radioactive thorium, uranium, toxic heavy metals, arsenic and copious amount of chemicals has been dumped by its plant. The Malaysian executive review report showed data of serious groundwater contamination from nickel, chromium, lead, and mercury all around Lynas’ waste storage facility from its own monitoring stations. Lynas has denied that it is the cause of the contamination.

Joint Statement from Environment groups calling for Lynas Corporation clean up its toxic radioactive mess in Malaysia

Wednesday 10 April, 2019

Friends of the Earth Australia and Stop Lynas Campaign Australia stand in solidarity with all Malaysians calling for Australian-owned rare earth miner Lynas Corporation to stop polluting Malaysia with its toxic radioactive waste and to start cleaning up the mess it has created.

We stand in solidarity with the peaceful mass movement across Malaysia that advocated for the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP) to not be given an operating licence. Despite the lack of social licence it was approved by the previous controversial Najib-run Government - without a detailed Environmental Impact Assessment - when Lynas gave the undertaking to remove its radioactive waste from Malaysia in December 2012.

Toxic substances like thorium and uranium radionuclides, together with toxic heavy metals and arsenic, most of which are cancer-causing agents, are present in the ore of rare earth minerals. They are being left behind in the waste and effluent at the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant in Kuantan, Malaysia. There are also issues with the harsh reagent and corrosive acids used in the processing stages.

The Malaysian Government made a Ministerial Decision following an executive review on Lynas to enforce the licence condition that it would remove it radioactive waste from Malaysia. Lynas has yet to follow through with this condition. This is a gross violation of its corporate environmental and social responsibility.

Therefore, in solidarity with all Malaysian citizens we call on:

1. Lynas Coporration to clean up the toxic waste it has created at it Lynas Advanced Materials Plant in Malaysia;

2. The Australian government to legislate binding corporate regulation to prevent any further human rights or environmental violation of Australian corporations operations overseas; and

3. The Malaysian Government should not renew Lynas' permit in September this year while Lynas does not have a clear plan of how to deal safely and responsibly with the waste.

Press Statement

Cabinet Must Stop Lynas From Polluting Malaysia

10th April 2019

Together with Greenpeace Malaysia, SMSL is joined by hundreds of concerned Malaysians to demand that Prime Minister Tun Mahathir Mohamad and his Pakatan Harapan Cabinet take actions to protect Malaysia and to stop Australian Lynas Corporation from polluting the environment. Over 60 organisations have endorsed a memorandum with a list of demands which will be presented to Cabinet and the Parliamentary Caucus on Lynas.

Mr Tan Bun Teet, Chairman for SMSL says, “We welcome Tun’s announcement last Friday to impose a new condition requiring Lynas to only bring in semi-processed radioactive-free feedstock for refining through its Malaysian plant. However, what is going to happen to the half a million tonnes of toxic radioactive waste and the nearly 1.2 million tonnes of scheduled waste that Lynas has generated to date? These wastes have already polluted our environment. The pollution must be STOPPED immediately.”

Lynas’ hazards are cancer-causing radioactive thorium and uranium; and other toxic elements from heavy metals, arsenic and chemicals found in the water-leached purification stream of its wastes that should have been isolated from the environment.

Radioactive waste increases the background radiation. More seriously, the fine particulates of Lynas’ waste may find their way into the lungs and organs of people who must breathe, drink, and eat. Contaminated groundwater moves into streams and rivers to pollute the aquatic ecosystem. The flood-prone low-lying Balok peat mangrove is never the right place for Lynas’ toxic waste dump.

Dr Yu Siew Hong, a local GP from Kuantan warns, “We cannot afford to wait until local people begin showing symptoms of cancer and other chronic illnesses linked to Lynas’ hazards. Lynas has no place in Malaysia.”

The Ministerial decision requiring Lynas to remove its toxic radioactive waste from Malaysia is not a new condition. It is an enforcement of Lynas’ licence condition to hold Lynas to task over its 2012 undertaking for getting the operating licence.

“A couple of Cabinet Ministers have appeared not to have learnt from the expensive bitter lessons from Lynas in Pahang and the toxic fume disaster in Johor. Today, we are here also to remind them that Rakyat will not tolerate Ministers who do not act to protect our environment and wellbeing of the community.” Mr Tan explains.

Samples of ‘toxic’ waste will be handed out to Entrepreneur Development Minister Redzuan Yusof who challenged the Ministerial decision on Lynas earlier; and Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Dr Xavier Jayakumar who lifted the bauxite mining ban in Pahang.

“Our environment is our precious national asset which we must protect for now and for many generations to come.” Concludes Dr Yu

For further comments, please contact: Mr Tan Bun Teet : +60 179 730 576

or Dr Yu Siew Hong : +60 12-900 7785

Thursday, 14 March 2019

PSHK/SMSL Press statement on 13/03/2019

Lynas Should Start Cleaning Up its Mess and Stop the Delaying Tactic

13th March 2019

Last week, MESTECC put an advertisement in the media on the public consultation of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) submitted by Lynas. The EIA was submitted with Lynas’ application to make its waste storage area a permanent site for its NUF (neutralisation underflow) stream of waste.

Responding to this latest move by Lynas, Mr Tan Bun Teet, SMSL Chairman says, “Lynas should have submitted this detailed EIA back in 2011, before Malaysia issued it the operating licence. What is the use of getting the public reviewing a document when Lynas has failed to comply with its own blueprints since 2011? This EIA is just another expensive document to add to those piles of documents related to its operations and waste ‘management’ that has resulted in nearly 2 million tonnes of wastes piled up high and leaching hazards into our environment.” – see photos attached of Lynas’ waste piles.

Late November last year, the Executive Review Committee on Lynas revealed in its report that ground water monitoring data (p.80-81) around Lynas’ waste storage area – see map over the page – have shown serious level of contamination from toxic heavy metals - nickel, chromium, lead and mercury. One of the monitoring stations SW13 near or at Lynas’ effluence discharge area, has nickel level 1000 times over the Dutch legal limit for nickel!

“If these data revealed such serious contamination, MESTECC should really take action on Lynas. If other companies that have violated our regulations have been fined and penalised, why should Lynas be exempted when it has produced phenomenally huge amount of hazardous waste?“ Asked Mr Hon Kai Ping, Legal Adviser for SMSL.

For years now, Lynas has been storing its wastes in its processing plant premises in Gebeng in breach of Malaysia’s regulatory requirements under the Scheduled Waste Regulation 2005 of the 1974 Environmental Quality Act. Under this regulation, the waste can only be stored onsite for up to 180 days if it is 20 tonnes or below. By law, the NUF waste needs to have the appropriate label and be stored in containers. Yet Lynas managed to accumulate over 1 million tonnes of scheduled waste and over 450,000 tonnes of radioactive waste without any legal recourse since production began in 2013.

Mr Hon adds, “Yet Lynas continues to seek leeway to go above our regulations despite the public and environmental health implications of its wastes. Hasn’t MESTECC already made its decisions on both Lynas’ scheduled waste and radioactive waste back in December? Why should Malaysians be subjected to Lynas’ tactics to bargain for more against provisions of our own law to allow this Australian mining company to keep dumping its wastes here?”

“The current waste storage site is located on a low-lying peat mangrove swampland. It is flood and fire-prone. MESTECC should not entertain Lynas any longer. Lynas has contaminated our ground water. Act now to stop the contamination and order Lynas to clean up its own mess. Rakyat’s health and our environment should not be compromised further for the sake of a foreign company that pays no taxes, concerns only with its profit margin.”

Concludes Mr. Tan

For further comments, please contact:

Mr Tan Bun Teet - Hp: +60 179 730 576 or Mr Hon Kai Ping - +60 112 544 7356

Above: Red arrows showing ground water sampling stations where monitoring data were obtained

Wednesday, 19 December 2018


Fuziah lauds gov't's decision ordering Lynas to remove radioactive waste
Bernama | Published: 19 Dec 2018, 10:14 pm | Modified: 19 Dec 2018, 10:49 pm

Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Fuziah Salleh welcomed the government's decision ordering Lynas Corporation Ltd (Lynas) to remove the radioactive waste processed at the company's factory from Kuantan in Pahang.

The Kuantan MP said she was informed of the decision reached at a cabinet meeting today following suggestions from the Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Ministry.

Describing the decision as the best achievement for the people's cause, Fuziah hoped the process could be carried out as soon as possible.

“This is a much awaited decision for the residents and if possible, I hope the process can be done immediately because the water content in the rivers in Kuantan is now almost polluted.

“The general population earn their living from the rivers and the sea, imagine if these are polluted, how will they make a living,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister's Department will propose amendments to the Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Act 1993 (Act 505) on the issue of Baitulmal funds for emergency purposes.

Fuziah said under the provisions of Act 505, Baitulmal is currently only allowed to issue RM50 for an applicant.

“Act 505 outlines an emergency fund withdrawal of RM50 which is too small an amount to solve a problem. So, there is a need for the amendment to create a more comprehensive emergency fund distribution method,” he told reporters at the 2018 corporate zakat handover in Putrajaya today.

— Bernama

Tuesday, 18 December 2018

 An Open Letter To Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohammad

18th December 2018

Dear Esteemed Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir,

Please do NOT accept Najib’s Poisoned Chalice and Lynas Spin

We, the rakyat thank you for returning to the political centre stage through Pakatan Harapan (PH) to get rid of Najib and his kleptocratic regime. Sadly, Najib has left a poisoned chalice through the 100% Australian-owned Lynas rare earth plant in Malaysia. It is like the toxic legacy of the 1 MDB scandal that will continue to plague PH until it is cleaned up and sorted.

The Lynas Rare Earth Plant and its Mounts of Contaminated Waste

Tun, you are a wise Elder stateman. We hope and trust that you can see why Malaysia should enforce our law and regulations on Lynas to ensure that its hazardous waste cease to pollute our precious environment and to spiral into a serious toxic rerun.

According to Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) “Good corporate governance promotes investor confidence”. While the ASX and Australia have limited jurisdiction over Lynas’ operations in Malaysia, the PH Government has the power to ensure that Lynas truly complies with Malaysian law and regulations, as well as adhere to the ASX Corporate Governance Principles[ https://www.asx.com.au/documents/asx-compliance/cgc-principles-and-recommendations-3rd-edn.pdf p.3-4]. Sustainable development as promised in the PH Manifesto is only possible ifthe Government upholds our own law to restore order.

Many of us have contributed and campaigned for PH to be elected. We supported your leadership because we trust that you will act in Malaysia’s interest and that you will hold your words to undo past mistakes. Lynas is a major mistake committed by the Najib regime. We now count on you to join Energy, Technology, Science, Climate Change and Environment Minister Yeo Bee Yin to right this wrong to pave the way for Malaysia to pursue a new clean and safe sustainable pathway of development.

In summary:

Lynas’ waste is neither earth nor harmless and there are over 1.5 million tonnes of it contaminating our environment right now. The waste is a concoction of chemical compounds containing cancer-causing radionuclides, heavy metals and other toxic elements including arsenic and chemicals.

Scientific fact - radiation beyond the background increases the risk of getting cancer, due to both the external and internal radiation effects. In 2015, a major epidemiological cohort study involving 308 297 workers exposed to low-level radioactivity provided a direct estimate of the association between protracted low dose exposure to ionising radiation and deaths from solid cancer.

International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) has made scientifically-based recommendations since 1990 to limit the single-source radiation exposure above the background to 1 mSv per year per person. Lynas’ WLP waste currently has an exposure dose of 14.4 mSv per year per person.

When Lynas mined, milled and chemically processed its lanthanide ore bearing hazardous elements and radionuclides, these toxic elements are released from their natural shields and they will harm us and our environment.

Lynas’ current storage facility in a peat mangrove swamp is grossly inadequate resulting in serious contaminations problems.

While ARE feedstock has much higher level of radioactivity, Lynas will generate 160 times more waste than ARE’s in another 15 years’ time, the health care and environmental damage costs will spiral. To then isolate the nearly 2 million tonnes of WLP waste will require close to 100 square kilometres of pristine forest to be permanently wasted to create another toxic tomb.

Misinformation Must be Corrected

Back in 2012, through your blog, Chedat - http://chedet.cc/?p=761, you asserted that “the Lynas plant in Pahang does not involve activating any of the `rare earth components to make them radioactive. The process cannot be harmful. As for the waste, it does not give off harmful radiation either. The waste is just ordinary earth which is normally mixed with the small amounts of rare earth. The necessity to export the waste does not arise.”

The information you have received about Lynas is incorrect. Lynas’ own ground water monitoring data revealed to the Executive Review Committee (ERC) have shown serious heavy metal contaminations since 2015[ Laporan Jawatankuasa Eksekutif Penilaian Operasi Lynas Advanced Materials Plant, 2018. P.80-81]. None of our regulators has acted on it even though they are mandated to protect our environment and our community. As rakyat who want the best for our beloved Malaysia, we present here through this open letter the facts about Lynas.

Lynas’ Waste is Toxic - Bad for Us, Bad for our Environment and Bad for our Economy

Scientifically, the level of radiation in the ore and wastes is caused by the concentration of radioactive elements or radionuclides. It need not be ‘activated’ to be harmful. Rare earth elements in our smart phones and the wide range of electronic consumables are not radioactive, or else they would not see the day light of the market economy. Malaysia is left with the waste containing carcinogenic radionuclides and other hazardous elements which have been extracted from the ore. In advanced industrialised nations, this type of waste is disposed of in regulated well-engineered facility[ Oeko Institute, 2013, Description and Critical Environmental Evaluation of the REE Refining Plant LAMP near Kuantan in Malaysia, p.78] to isolate the radionuclides from the biosphere. Australia considered the water-leached purification (WLP) stream of waste from Lynas as a radioactive waste.[ https://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;db=CHAMBER;id=chamber/hansards/22bf1f16-2a0b-4177-8209-58163298188d/0214;query=Id:%22chamber/hansards/22bf1f16-2a0b-4177-8209-58163298188d/0000%22]

Lynas waste is not earth but a concoction of chemical compounds as follows:

1.water-leached purification (WLP) waste currently totalling 451,564 tonnes contaminated with 880,000kg long living thorium (radioactivity of 8Bq/g with a half-life of 14 billion year), 7,700kg uranium[Estimates based on 2014 UKM research findings (https://ukm.pure.elsevier.com/en/publications/thorium-uranium-and-rare-earth-elements-content-in-lanthanide-con) on the Thorium and Uranium concentration of Lynas’ WLP waste], 1,305,000 kg manganese, 359,000 kg chromium, 221,000 kg lead, 50,124kg nickel, 5,800kg arsenic, 3,700 cadmium and other heavy metals[ Environ, 2011, Safety Case of the Radioactive Waste Disposal LAMP, p. 26].

a.Lynas' WLP waste to rare earth oxides (REO) ratio has increased by 2.5 times from its declared ratio of 64,000:22,500=2.8 tonnes per tonne of REO. Its current ratio is 451,564:62,582[ Estimated from Lynas’ Quarterly Reports ]=7.2 tonnes per tonne of REO. Lynas should have sought approval for the higher waste ratio, carried out a new radiological risk assessment and a new safety case analysis for the increase in its hazards load as it has serious safety implications for Malaysia. In 20 years’ time, the total accumulated WLP waste will be over 3 million tonnes. Our regulatory agencies AELB and DoE had failed to act on this.

b.WLP waste is a radioactive waste by Australian definition which would need a special permit to return to Lynas’ mine pit under very stringent regulatory control.[ See ref 3 Hansard entry for the Senate Questions on Notice in the previous page] It is the safest option for Malaysia. Leaving it in high population-density Malaysia in its current low-lying peat swamp location will add significant hazards to our environment, posing serious intergenerational threat to both our environment and our community.

Above : WLP waste piled up to 9-metre high covered with HDPE Plastic - effective dose 14.4 mSv/year – international regulatory limit for effective dose to the public is 1mSv/year
2.1,113,000 tonnes of neutralisation underflow residue (NUF) waste classified as scheduled waste which is essentially a contaminated gypsum which Lynas has yet to commercialised despite claims made in its own waste management plan. This waste is no longer kept in its original facility since all of the four retention ponds have now been used to store the WLP waste. They are left in open space as shown in the aerial photo in page 1.

Ground Water Contamination Consistent with Toxic Elements in Lynas Waste

Lynas’ waste storage facility, claimed by Lynas to be an international best practice, has been assessed to be inadequate in preventing ground and surface water contamination and flooding runoffs[ Oeko Institute, 2013, Description and Critical Environmental Evaluation of the REE Refining Plant LAMP. P. 53-80]. This assessment is now proven true by Lynas’ own ground water monitoring data for nickel, chromium, lead and mercury revealed by the ERC on p.80-81. These are toxic elements that should never be allowed to contaminate our environment. The maximum recorded contamination level of 96,110 µg/l for nickel was at or near the Lynas waste water discharge point, labelled as GW13. This reading is over 1000 times higher than the Dutch intervention level of 75 µg/l![ Laporan Jawatankuasa Eksekutif Penilaian Operasi Lynas Advanced Materials Plant, 2018 ]. This is just the tip of the iceberg as we have no access to further monitoring data from Lynas.

Health Hazards of Lynas’ Radionuclides Contaminated Waste
It is a long-established scientific fact that radiation beyond the background increases the risk of getting cancer, due both the external and internal radiation effects. It is for this very reason that the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) has made scientifically-based recommendations since 1990 to limit the single-source exposure above the background to 1 mSv per year per person – known as the annual effective dose limit for public[ https://hps.org/publicinformation/ate/q8900.html].

This recommendation was reaffirmed in the 2007 ICRP report[ The 2007 Recommendations of the International Commission on Radiological Protection. Publication 103, Annals of the ICRP, Vol. 37]. In 2015, a major epidemiological cohort study involving 308 297 workers exposed to low-level radioactivity in France, United Kingdom and the United States of America provided a direct estimate of the association between protracted low dose exposure to ionising radiation and deaths from solid cancer[ https://www.bmj.com/content/351/bmj.h5359 - British Medical Journal].

World Health Organisation has since strengthened its warnings on the solid cancer risk from exposure to low dose ionising radiation.[ https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/ionizing-radiation-health-effects-and-protective-measures]
Lynas has claimed that the toxic elements in its wastes are naturally occurring and are found everywhere in our environment and are therefore harmless. In truth, when Lynas mined, milled and chemically processed its lanthanide ore bearing hazardous elements and radionuclides, they are released from their natural shields which have protected them from getting into contact with us and our environment.

Comparing naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORM) in beach sand, rocks, soil, etc in their natural shielded states with Lynas’ imported NORM processed in Malaysia and left in its waste is an insult to our intelligence. The low risk radioactivity Lynas has claimed for its operations has not accounted for the biological effects of ionizing radiation and toxic hazards from its contaminants in the waste.[ https://www.epa.gov/radiation/tenorm-rare-earths-mining-wastes – US EPA’s Radiation Protection Guide on TENORM : Processing rare earth minerals involves the separation and removal of uranium and thorium, which results in TENORM wastes] These are Lynas’ real public and industrial hazards which it has failed to contain and safely managed.

Exposure to concentrated radionuclides like those in Lynas’ WLP waste, increases the risk of ionising radiation hazards both for humans and the natural environment – potentially contaminating the food chain. Thorium dioxide, which is present in Lynas’ WLP waste at 1000ppm, is a known human carcinogen[ https://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/sis/search/a?dbs+hsdb:@term+@DOCNO+6364]. There is research evidence that inhaling thorium dust increases the risk of bone, lung and pancreatic cancer.[ 2 https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/substances/thorium – US National Cancer Institute]

Additionally, nickel, lead, chromium, cadmium, arsenic and chemical compounds in the WLP waste are toxic and are harmful to humans and can contaminate our food sources and water.[ Laporan Jawatankuasa Eksekutif Penilaian Operasi Lynas Advanced Materials Plant, 2018; and Environ 2011, Safety Case Analysis of Radioactive Waste LAMP, p. 26]
Malaysia Cannot Afford Another Toxic Legacy
The toxic legacy in Bukit Merah is a mistake that should not be repeated. Countless number of children died of childhood leukemia. Miscarriages, cancer cases and birth defects affected those who were exposed to the Mitsubishi’s Asian Rare Earth (ARE) hazards. Bukit Merah has become an infamous case study of mismanagement of industrial hazards which has shadowed over Malaysia’s governance credentials.
While ARE feedstock has much higher level of radioactivity, the amount of WLP waste generated by Lynas to date has already exceeded the total generated by ARE in its entire operational lifetime by 40 times!! The quantity of thorium, uranium, heavy metals, toxic elements and chemicals in Lynas’ wastes pose significant hazards to require their total removal from Malaysia to avoid costly health and environmental disasters which often take a long time to surface for this kind of pollution.

The paltry US$50 million Lynas has committed to the de-commissioning fund will not be enough to clean up the mess 160 times more than ARE. Lynas’ attempt to make its current storage facility in a peat swamp is grossly irresponsible given the serious contaminations problems that have already occurred.

Support Minister Yeo Bee Yin to Enforce Law and Restore Order

Minister Yeo Bee Yin is right in exercising the power of the Government to order Lynas to remove its WLP waste from Malaysia and to clean up its scheduled waste in accordance with Malaysian law and regulations – law and order must be restored and upheld. The opportunity costs of sacrificing at least 100 square kilometres of precious pristine rainforest to bury Lynas’ colossal toxic waste, its entire plant and equipment during decommissioning will be immense. The risk of leakage and exposure to future generations from a major landslide or erosion – both of which are common occurrences in Malaysia, is real and costly.

Malaysia will end up footing their rising medical bills and our economy suffers through the loss of productivity, contaminated seafood, expensive legacy site clean-up and a poor reputation. Tourism industry which has provided more safe and sustainable employment to locals will be severely affected. Will Lynas pay for these costs, permanent damages and bear responsibility in perpetuality? What if the contamination and hazards spread further afield? Is it worth paying such high costs for a rogue Australian junior mining company like Lynas?

Sure, extraction of amang, mineral ores, by-products or used products containing rare earth elements (REE) should be pursued when it is commercially and technically viable to do so in socially responsible and ecologically sustainable manners. However, the way Lynas has done it in Malaysian is far from being responsible or ecologically sustainable. It is for this reason that until today, seven years from when Lynas is known to the people in Malaysia, it STILL has no social licence to operate. PH cannot afford this public health scandal.

If Lynas was genuinely serious about international best practice, it would have stayed in Western Australia to comply with its stringent requirements to keep its supply chain clean. Instead Lynas has polluted Malaysia, inflicted a costly slow violence upon the local community and still persistently trying to deceive the Government to accept its hazards. Lynas lacks ethics, transparency and corporate social and environmental responsibility, as promoted by the Australian Stock Exchange corporate governance principles, towards Malaysia and the rakyat; its own shareholders and investors who might have invested in the company, misled to believe that it has adhered to a decent governance standard, when the opposite is true.

As a trained medical doctor, Tun, it is prudence that you take recommendations from the ICRP and WHO seriously, in our national interests and for the sake of the rakyat who are already at risk. Every day that the WLP waste remains in Malaysia, it will be a stark reminder that PH has accepted Najib’s poisoned chalice to allow a mega toxic legacy to fester and grow into a costly and dangerous permanent sore for Malaysia.

Concerned Citizens of Malaysia