By Shazwan Mustafa Kamal fromThe Malaysian Insider
April 17, 2012
BANGI, April 17 – Lynas opponents today claimed proof that waste produced from the Australian miner’s planned rare earth refinery would be hazardous, saying that past environmental assessment reports substantiated their allegations.
They alleged that parts of an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report showed that the Lynas waste contained high levels of heavy metal concentration, which includes a combination of cadmium, kromium, nickel and lead.
“This was not disclosed. The waste will be hazardous to our people, our environment. The solid waste is toxic,” said independent chemist Mat Azhar Mat Lazim who spoke to reporters outside the Malaysian Nuclear Agency here.
Mat Azhar was one of the expert witnesses appointed by three individuals who are appealing the Atomic Energy Licensing Board’s January 30 decision to award a temporary operating licence (TOL) for the Lynas refinery in Gebeng, Kuantan.
Save Malaysia Stop Lynas (SMSL) deputy chairman Ismail Abu Bakar, who is one of the three appealing the decision led the anti-Lynas team today to meet Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili.
Last week, Kuala Lumpur High Court Justice Rohana Yusof rejected the bid by 10 residents to stop Lynas’ rare earth plant as she did not want to embarrass Ongkili should he decide differently from the court on the temporary operating licence (TOL).
“There’s just not enough data, information. We want to know what are the actual detailed levels of thorium as well.
“They did not disclose details of the level of thorium, that is another contention,” said Mat Azhar.
“The main purpose of us being here today is to urge the minister to reconsider giving the temporary licence to Lynas Corp.
“I do not want to sound pessimistic but (throughout) the hearing, it sounded like he (Ongkili) was not agreeable (to our arguments),” Ismail told reporters.
In a statement issued later by the ministry, Ongkili was quoted as saying he will study the documents and testimonies presented today and will consult related experts and authorities before making a decision on the appeal.
Lynas Corp’s Malaysian subsidiary said the plant would be ready to fire up operations in three weeks’ time.
Critics allege that Lynas Corp has failed to give enough assurances on how it will handle the low-level radioactive waste that will be produced at the plant.