Monday, 28 November 2011

Australia National Toxic Network media release 28 November 2011

Lynas Corporation granted ‘permit to pollute’ with radioactive waste

Controversial rare earth manufacturer Lynas Corporation has been granted a licence by the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) that will allow the company to store radioactive slurry in ponds
that will leak over 5 million litres of radioactive waste per annum, the National Toxics Network said today.

“This ‘permit to pollute’ comes on the back of the discovery by the DEC that the original tailings ponds built by Lynas would leak an astonishing 186,000 litres per day or, 67 million litres of contaminated waste per annum” said Lee Bell, NTN spokesperson.

The ponds are situated at the Lynas Concentrator plant at Mt Weld near Laverton.

“Rare earth ores from the Mt Weld mine undergo chemical processing at the plant with radioactive waste slurry from the process being dumped in ponds. The DEC refused to allow Lynas to dump their waste until
they had constructed a smaller lined pond specifically for waste disposal” Mr Bell said.

“Lynas have admitted in their Radiation Management Plan that their ore, concentrate and waste are sufficiently radioactive to be above the annual public dose limit of 1mSv per year. Despite this the DEC
will let them use ponds that will leak up to 5 million litres per year of radioactive tailings waste” said Mr Bell.

“The Department of Mines and Petroleum have declared that the Lynas waste slurry must be managed as radioactive tailings due to its thorium and uranium content yet the concentrate, which has much higher
radioactivity will not be transported as radioactive material - despite earlier approvals requiring this higher level of regulation.

Malaysia will also require the Lynas concentrate to be transported as a radioactive material as soon as it lands” Mr Bell said.

 “This is in stark contrast to public statements by Lynas that their product is so low in radiation that it does not need to be transported as a radioactive material when it is shipped through WA and Fremantle
Ports. The public are being hoodwinked and government agencies are supporting this deception,” said Mr Bell

NTN calls on the Western Australian government to stop the leakage at Mt Weld and ban any shipments of the Lynas concentrate until an independent assessment of the radiation risks of Lynas concentrate is
made public.

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