Monday, 5 November 2012

An Appeal from Anguished Mothers to Stop Lynas


MEMORANDUM
5 November 2012
YAB Dato’ Seri Mohd. Najib Bin Tun Abdul Razak,
We , representatives of mothers from Kuantan hereby present to you, Honourable Prime Minister Najib Razak  and as a loyal son of Pahang, our concerns with regard to the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP) near Kuantan.
We appeal to you as the esteemed Prime Minister of Malaysia to show leadership in sustainable development by stopping the Lynas rare earth refinery project in the interest of public health and for the long-term future of your homeland in Pahang.  If the LAMP is allowed to operate and once Lynas starts bringing its rare earth ore to Malaysia, we will forever have to live in the shadow of radiation exposure and pollution.  This risk and hazards are real and have been proven through independent scientific analysis and engineering assessment which we have access to.
Our regulator the Atomic Energy licensing Board (AELB) and the Minister responsible for the AELB, Datuk Seri Panglima Dr Maximus Johnity Ongkili, the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI)must be held accountable and responsible for their role in facilitating this hazardous world-scale rare earth refinery near Kuantan.
Both the AELB and the Datuk Seri Maximus Ongkili have broken public trust and confidence through the issuing of the temporary operating licence to Lynas Corporation despite widespread public opposition to the hazardous project and many outstanding problems concerning the Lynas refinery project as follows:
·           When the government approved of the TOL for Lynas in January, no safe or viable permanent solution was found for its radioactive waste. Today, the AELB has issued the TOL to Lynas when the company is still scrambling around trying to find a permanent solution to its toxic radioactive waste. This is a risk-taking behaviour dangerous to Malaysia and its rakyat’s long-term well-beings.  No advanced country would have allowed this to happen. 
·           The IAEA, AELB, MOSTI and the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) have all failed the rakyat and went against your long-held motto that “rakyat didahulukan” by asserting that Lynas should bring in its ore concentrate into Malaysia for testing.  This is essentially making your rakyat, especially our children, Lynas’ lab rats for its own commercial interests totally free-of-charge.  Can you as a Prime Minister of a country allow this to happen under your nose?? This is a dangerous and risky decision that will adversely affect the whole nation, especially your home state of Pahang.
 ·         What about the kampong folks living nearby the LAMP, the fishermen, the women, especially those who support their family selling keropok,ikanmasin, otak-otak, satar and other traditional seafood products.  What will happen to the children who live nearby, who play in the Balok River where Lynas will be dumping 500 tonnes of its discharged water EVERY HOUR?  The water discharged is contaminated and yet none of the river and estuarine users or the fishermen have been properly informed or educated about the risk and hazards to their life.
·           The Pahang beaches so famous and popular in Malaysia will be tainted by the presence of a world-scale rare earth plant .Lynas is a reputational risk for Malaysia.  Do you seriously think well-heeled tourist will want to spend money near the world’s largest rare earth refinery? Do you really think that Club Med only some 15km north will keep operating when Lynas starts its operations?

·           Lynas has no experience in the processing of rare earth or in managing its complex waste and pollution problems.  There has as yet no best practice model of rare earth refinery in the world to date.  China has only beginning to clean up decades of disastrous-scale pollution from its rare earth industry which rendered many places hot beds of cancer and chronic illnesses.  The Californian desert-based Mt Pass rare earth miner Molycorp is still piloting its US$500 million retro fitted zero-discharge processing plant.  Yet in Malaysia, a totally inexperience new player in the rare earth processing industry dared to claim that its plant is safe, and in a peat mangrove swamp so close to an important mangrove area and the South China Sea!

·           The AELB has failed before in ensuring that no harmful radiation and pollution is left to harm the rakyat in Bukit Merah and nearby villages.  It was local residents who like us, had to take the matter to the court.  It was through international pressure that Mitsubishi eventually shut down the toxic Asian Rare Earth Plant.  Neither MOSTI nor the AELB did a thing to make sure that tax paying rakyat and their family are safe.

·           Worse, the AELB has yet to thoroughly clean up the mess left by Mitsubishi’s Asian Rare Earth plant – there are still illegal dump sites scattered around the plant with highly radioactive toxic waste left from where and when it was dumped over 20 years ago.  This systemic and systematic failure do not give us the rakyat any confidence in the AELB in managing the Lynas project which is at least 10 times bigger with hundreds more times waste to be produced.

·           Until today, not a single victim or his or her family in Bukit Merah area has been compensated for their illness and health conditions. The people themselves have to pick up the pieces of a bad government decision with no support nor special health services provided to them.  There was not any health study or environmental impact study done to assess and determine the extent of the impact on the environment and the local community.  This kind of negligence only happens to a third world country!

·           The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)has made eleven recommendations last June, the AELB set five conditions in its licensing approval back in late January and two conditions were added by Minister Ongkilifron its review. Further the PSC made 31 recommendations and yet rakyat have not been informed on how the Government has been progressing on these recommendations.  This in itself has contravened one of the key recommendations of the IAEA – that the AELB to inform the public on its decision making process, which the Government has publicly declared it will adhered to.

·           The TOL was simply issued by the AELB.  At first we thought the import licence and the licence to dispose residue have yet to be issued as indicated by the AELB.  Suddenly and unexpectedly, these licences too were issued – again without the AELB following its own process having earlier publicly stated that Lynas had yet to apply for those two licences.

·           Rare earth elements especially lanthanide are not harmless – we are attaching a list of references outlining the various health impacts and hazards for your reference.

Malaysia will be a laughing stock of advanced nations and countries which pride themselves for their good governance.  The government has made a fool of itself in the eyes of responsible governments the world over by issuing the TOL at the expense of tax paying rakyat and our precious environment for a foreign company.  Malaysia will be tainted with a reputation for fast-tracking hazardous and risky project at the expense of the environment, the population and even the local economy that has sustained the livelihoods of hundreds and thousands of people for decades.

Malaysia will earn a poor reputation for hosting such a world-scale hazardous project and allowing a foreign company to dump millions of tonnes of toxic radioactive waste (imported from Australia) onto our beautiful shore tax free.  Only a third world country will do that!
As mothers, we are extremely concerned with the impact of such a poor and ill-considered decision on our family and the many generations to come.
As mothers, we want the best for our family especially for our children and our beloved country Malaysia.  We want development and we want growth which does not cause harm to our living environment and our future. 
As mothers, we want to see our children and their children and the many generations later to enjoy the same if not better living environment as we have now.  With millions of tonnes of toxic waste in our backyard that will continue to be a hazard for ever – thorium has a half-life of 14 billion years – we will forever be living in the shadow of this pollution.
We appeal to you, Honourable Prime Minister, a loyal son of Pahang and as a father, to exercise your duty of care and to show strong leadership to intervene in the interests of the rakyat and for the country’s long-term sustainable development before it is too late.
We thank you for your attention and we look forward to your leadership in facilitating a peaceful and satisfactory resolution to this problem which has plagued our country since we have learnt of its existence from the media last year.  We are now leaving it in your hands.
As mothers, we will continue to fight till the end for a cleaner and safer Malaysia.

Yours truthfully,
Rahiza Binti Zulkifli representing the following mothers:
Dr. Yu Siew Hong, Lee Chow Fong, Abujavali A/P V. Raman, Prabawathi A/P V Raman, Hjh Zaharah Awang, Sam Theem, Idun bt Lah, Siti Zainab bt Sulaaiman, Leong Tze Lai, Jamilah Tarsi, Nyew Siok Jim, Santha a/p Govindasamy

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