The NGOs want Lynas' approvals examined and calls for stringent safeguards to protect Australian residents along the radioactive materials transport route.
PETALING JAYA: The Lynas Corporation Ltd controversy is nowhere near an end in Malaysia but already the Australian mining giant is bracing itself for another altercation – this time in Australia.
Australia’s Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) today announced through a media statement that it will belodginga referral tomorrow on behalf of the Anti-Nuclear Alliance of Western Australia (ANAWA) to the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) on Lynas’ operations at Mount Weld.
According to ANAWA spokesperson, Marcus Atkinson, Lynas has made a number of changes to its procedures which have not gone through the appropriate approvals.
“Lynas are currently operating under approvals issued to them 14 years ago,” he stated. “There are major concerns about the amounts of radioactive materials being transported from Mt Weld through Fremantle Port.”
“Health and safety issues need to be thoroughly examined to ensure the best protection of those involved in the handling of this material.
Atkinson noted that Lynas has proposed the export of West Australian rare earths to a “controversial” processing plant in Malaysia.
He also observed that the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP) has been facing delays due construction defects, and “strong local opposition”.
Atkinson made reference to the nationwide Himpunan Hijau 2.0 rally on Feb 26 in which 15,000 people gathered at the main venue in Kuantan to voice their opposition to the RM2.5 billion plant.
“The Lynas project has sparked Malaysia largest ever environmental campaign,” he pointed out.
In urging the EPA to take a serious look at the Mt Weld operations and the transportation of radioactive material to Fremantle Port, Atkinson also stated the need for “extremely stringent” safeguards to protect Fremantle residents and other communities on the transport routes.
“The approvals given 14 years ago need to be re-examined by the EPA and stronger regulations need to be put in place to ease the fears of the community,” he said.
“We have made many mistakes in the past with the transport of lead and other materials, and we need to ensure that the same mistakes are not made with rare earth products.”
This unexpected development will add further strength to the voices of anti-Lynas groups in Malaysia and put further pressure on government authorities who approved the LAMP’s temporary operating licence on Feb 1.