Thursday 8 September 2016

Uranium discovered in water supply for Moonbi and Kootingal in northern NSW

Elevated levels of uranium have been discovered in groundwater supplies for two small towns in northern New South Wales.

The amount of uranium discovered in the water that goes to Moonbi and Kootingal, both located about 20 kilometres north-east of Tamworth, in July during routine bore water testing, were higher than those outlined in the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines.

The elevated levels were confirmed in August.

Now both towns are being supplied with water from Tamworth.

But independent water expert, Professor Peter Coombes from Swinburne University, has called for calm.

"From a health perspective, a one off, small exceedance of most elements is not a drinking water guideline exceedance, you need continuous exceedance of the guidelines for uranium or any other element," Professor Coombes said.

"We hear these alarming stories for alternative water sources every now and again, but we have to realise water contains a range of elements at quite low levels."

The tests found uranium levels of 0.032 milligrams.

Australian Drinking Water Guidelines list the safe level for human health at 0.017 milligrams, and the World Health Organisation lists the safe level at 0.03 milligrams.

Professor Coombes said there was no point "rushing to alarm until we are sure" and multiple tests were needed to gauge consistency of the levels.

"We've got a number of cases throughout Australia and internationally where the water companies have not told communities of [elevated contamination] levels for a long time," Professor Coombes said.

"Background levels of these elements are natural and are expected so there is no reason for alarm or concern because they are just normal."
Council working to determine impact

Tamworth Regional Council's director of water, Bruce Logan, said he did not know if there had been an impact on residents.

"We're speaking to the Department of Health to try to get their advice on what the implications for the levels have been," Mr Logan said.

"I don't want to speculate at this stage, we'll see what the Department of Health has to say and then we'll let the community know."

It is believed the uranium is from a naturally occurring source.

"Uranium occurs in geology and we understand what's happened is one of the supplies, water has infiltrated through some rocks that contain uranium and that's got into the ground water supply."

"It's not unusual, uranium is naturally occurring but the levels that we're seeing are elevated at the moment."

Mr Logan said under the guidelines testing for uranium was required every six months, and as far as he knew, that testing regime had been adhered to.

He has defended the amount of time it took the council to inform the community about the elevated uranium levels, saying that they wanted to wait until they had more information.

"We felt that trying to get some answers would be a better idea to what the community might ask, rather than going and telling them something and not having the answers to the questions that might ask," Mr Logan said.

"The Department of Health will tell us what they want.

"We've given them information, they may say: 'we need more information', that might include going back and testing some of the bores, the water that's in the bores now, I don't know what they will say.

"But essentially, because we're no longer supplying Moonbi [and] Kootingal there is no risk to anyone out there now."

Wednesday 7 September 2016

In response to our press statement on the renewal of the Full Operating Stage Licence for another three years, Lynas now claims there is no need for a Permanent Disposal Facility ( PDF) in view of their field trials and the possibility of commercialisation of their ‘solid residues from Lamp’.

This is a gross misrepresentation of the facts though the term ‘solids from Lamp’ is technically correct.

1. The Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (Lamp) produces three kinds of solid ‘residues’ (Lynas preferred the term residues to that of wastes because they claim that these ‘residues’ can be recycled), the first of which is called FGD (Flue Gas Desulphurisation). This together with the NUF (Neutralization Underflow) ‘residues’ are not classified as scheduled wastes as they are not radioactively potent.

The third category of waste is called WLP (Water leached Purification) ‘residues’ which are radioactive as it has a radioactivity of 6.4 Bq/gm.

It is the last category of ‘residues’ that the IAEA recommended to have them stored in a Permanent Disposal Facility.

2. The broad statement that ‘field trials and commercialidation of their ‘solid residues from Lamp’ does not differentiate between the radioactive one from that of the non scheduled wastes. Even if the field trials and commercialization is viable for the radioactive WLP ‘residues’, the need for a PDF would still be required as the decommissioning of the plant will require it to be identified and built.

3. It is both technically and financially not viable to recycle the radioactive WLP ‘residues’ as has been pointed out by us in our memorandums to both the Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) and the Lynas Operation Monitoring Committee (LOMC) prior to Lynas’ first Temporary Operating Licence (TOL) renewal in 2014.

The simple reason being to turn the WLP ‘residues’ into commercial byproducts with less than 1 Bq/gm (so as to be classified as ‘non radioactive’), the costs are too prohibitive. Many other industries had abandoned the idea of recycling their industrial wastes even though theirs are non-scheduled wastes.

4. Lynas is not in any financial position to start recycling any of their ‘solid residues’ now or in the near ‘future’ as can been seen from their yearly financial report. The FY 2016 report is currently overdue.

5. Lynas claimed that currently it has produced 93,300 tonnes of WLP ‘residues’ on dry weight basis. To use this quantity of WLP ‘residues’ before they can be ‘recycled’ into ‘non-radioactive products, it would require a six-fold volume of whatever substance that could be used to dilute it before they can become the feedstock for the industrial product.

‘Preliminary costs practically make recycling impossible’

6. The preliminary costs of drying the WLP pastes before dilution practically make the recycling impossible. All claims on the reuse and recycling of WLP ‘residues’ were put up merely for the sole purpose of acquiring renewals for their Temporary Operating Licence.

7. The need to identify and build a PDF is recommended by IAEA in their 2011 report. Even in their second report (2015) it did not rescind the call to dispense with the PDF. It merely expressed its opinion that the ‘radioactivity’ of the WLP residues was ‘intrinsically low’. (That was after it took them a full month’s delay to ‘describe’ the radioactivity of WLP as ‘intrinsically low’).

8. They have also disclosed that they have submitted a siting plan and an engineering plan for the PDF ‘in accordance to the regulatory requirements’.

This statement underscored the remark made by the former director-general of AELB in 2014 that Lynas had only submitted a ‘conceptual plan of the PDF’ and he further commented that it was not acceptable.

Saturday 3 September 2016

Press statement by Save Malaysia Stop Lynas group on the renewal of LAMP’s FOSL(TOL) on the 2nd September 2016

We note with deep regret and disappointment on AELB’s decision to renew LAMP’s Full Operating Stage License for another 3 years despite our call to its Board to examine the non fulfilment of terms and written undertakings by Lynas with commitments to recycle the radioactive WLP waste into industrial by-products and ship them overseas.

In Lynas Corporation’s announcement made to Australian Stocks Exchange today , it claimed that LAMP’s operations for the past 4 years at Gebeng, Kuantan did not cause notable increases in the background radiation level within 1,5 ,10 and 20 km radius of the plant. It also said the real time readings on the radiation level in the surrounding areas were also made available to AELB and the public online.

This is regrettably assumed by the parties concerned that the communities here are merely concerned with the issue of radiation.
If AELB Board has agreed to renew LAMP’s operating license for another 3 years based on this point of submission, we wish to remind all members of the Board that all the commitments and written undertakings by Lynas in regards to the management of the radioactive WLP wastes and identifying a location for the Permanent Deposit Facility (PDF) have yet to be fulfilled!

Since the first issuance of the Temporary Operating license in 2012, AELB has never made any announcements nor responded to public requests on the data of wastes they promised to collect in order to check if these data tally with that submitted by Lynas in their TOL application documents. This is important because Lynas did not build any pilot plant prior to setting up LAMP and all data on wastes were based on hypothetical calculations.

Neither has the other regulating authority like DOE.

This is in stark contrast to their statement that the ‘renewal followed a rigorous review undertaken by the AELB and other independent regulatory bodies in Malaysia.’

We wish to state here that our regulatory bodies concerned have yet to state openly, publish or respond to public’s criticisms on the matters mentioned above. This demonstrated clearly that they have ‘hidden’ themselves behind the stone wall of silence and are not ready to make themselves accountable for decisions they had made!

In our Memo to the Board on the 25th August, we reminded all members of the AELB Board that should it accede to the agreement to renew LAMP’s FOSL (TOL), they should be mindful of the ‘legacy’ they will be remembered by by the future generations of Malaysians for allowing profits to take precedent over people’s well beings.

With the approval of the Board to renew LAMP’s FOSL till September 2019, it testified to the fact that the Board has scant regards for the toxic legacy that their decision will help leave behind for our future generations!

Dated 2nd September 2016

Sunday 31 July 2016

Press statement by Save Malaysia Stop Lynas (SMSL) on the coming renewal of Temporary Operating License before 3rd September 2016 to Lynas Advanced Materials Plant(LAMP) at Gebeng, Pahang.

Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP) has been operating with a Temporary Operating License (TOL) since 3rd September 2012. The TOL was renewed under the name of Full Operating Stage License in September 2014. It is due for another round of renewal in September 2016.

We hereby strongly urge AELB and the Committee that sits and deliberates over LAMP’s application for renewal of TOL to consider the following reasons before deciding to grant them a renewal:

1. In 2012, before issuing Lynas the first TOL, the Director General of AELB, Dato Raja Abdul Aziz said they needed to let it run to collect the waste samples for analysis and compare with the data provided in their documents accompanying their application for TOL.

Till this date AELB has not declared or stated openly if the analysis done on samples of wastes collected tallied or complied with the projected figures as provided by Lynas.

2. Prior to issuing the TOL, Lynas had given a written undertaking to AELB and the Malaysian Government to dispose of the radioactive WLP wastes generated either by recycling it into industrial byproducts or ship them overseas. It is based on this undertaking that the TOL was granted and issued by AELB.

In the ensuing months and just prior to its first renewal (which they renamed the TOL as FOSL) they claimed to have carried out research and were ready to pave a road using this byproduct called road aggregates. Nothing further was heard about this soon after the TOL was renewed!

3. The panel of experts from IAEA has recommended a permanent disposal facility (PDF)be identified for the proper disposal of the WLP waste and the decommissioning before an operating license is issued. This was not adhered to both by Lynas and AELB.

Ironically, Lynas submitted a conceptual plan for the proposed PDF and based on that AELB issued the TOL!

This is a gross dereliction of duty by AELB as the regulating authorities!

4. Lynas is presently unlikely to fulfill any of the promises they had given or pledged because of its dire financial position. They would have defaulted on their debt repayment since last year if their creditors had not agreed to a restructuring of the repayments! They even requested for permission from their creditors to allow them to draw down on the interests paid to them to be used as operating capital as reported in their announcement to the ASX recently.

Given the critical financial position Lynas is in, we wish to know if the safe deposits due to AELB each year have been accordingly paid in full as stated in the schedule?

This is important as the safe deposit shall be used to manage the wastes left behind should Lynas cease operating due to whatever reasons.

5. From the data given by Lynas in its RWMP, for each Kilogram of REE refined from REO, there will be 13.365 kg of solid waste produced inclusive of 2.84 kg of radioactive WLP waste by LAMP.

Ending 30th June 2016, LAMP has produced a total of 28,270 tons of REE.

The total waste breakdown of each category of solid wastes is as below:

NUF : 223,395.82 tons

FGD : 74,029.70 tons

WLP : 80,412.44 tons

Solid waste in retention ponds: 1,256.44 tons.

The total solid waste produced to date adds up to a grand total of more than 379,094.40 tons!

LAMP is in full operation since the month of June this year. This means it is producing more and more solid wastes each day.

Lynas has in 2014, declared that it had found a way to recycle the WLP into road aggregates and was waiting to pave an experimental road for long term observation and monitoring. That was announced before it acquired its renewal of the TOL.

This time, through our esteemed MITI Minister’s mouth, we were told that Lynas has done research to turn WLP into soil enhancer and it is waiting to carry out the field tests sometime next year! Again this is announced prior to the renewal of TOL due this September!

Are these announcements coincidental or cleverly contrived to pressure AELB into granting them the TOL renewals?

Given the financial difficulties Lynas is now facing, it cannot possibly allocate any funds to structure a concrete plan to manage these solid wastes effectively especially the radioactive WLP wastes. Therefore countless future generations of Malaysians will be burdened with this toxic legacy should it cease operation!

Are the AELB Licensing Committee members ready to be remembered as the people solely responsible for this national calamity brought upon by a foreign corporation that used our environment as their toxic radioactive waste dumping ground while reaping profits from its processing operations?

We hereby call upon the Pengarah of AELB to withhold the renewal of its operating license.

Dated 31st July 2016.

Wednesday 15 June 2016

24th May 2016 marked the end of our long legal tussle with Lynas. The Appeal Court in Putrajaya dismissed with costs Lynas' appeal on a point of law whether the High Court Registrar has the legal authority to determine the quantum of taxation.

The taxation issue arose out of the defamation suit being dropped by Lynas against SMSL, me and 4 others in 2013. Since then our legal counsels had been busy sorting out documents and items on which we can claim expenses in regards to the case.

Before this Lynas offered to compensate us with RM3,000.00 for all the troubles they caused in instituting the defamation suit!

Though we spent hundred of thousands in getting experts from both local and overseas institutions in preparation of our defence, the court ruled that not all were admissible. In the end we were awarded a total of RM 80,505.10 for all claims inclusive of preparation of legal documents.

There is a lesson to be learnt here: Corporations will resort to any means money can employ to harass any party that raised a legitimate protest against their clandestine activities that might have a serious negative impact on the environment.

As can be seen, an e-portal which was sued together with us had no financial means to defend itself had decided to comply with Lynas' demand for an open apology.

We stood firm and were ready to wade through the challenges to prove ourselves. This had the effect of rattling them in their consideration of the possible negative perception of their corporation image internationally ! Thus the defamation suit was dropped!

Sometimes one has to stand firm to allow truth to prevail and this is one incident where we did!

Quick Update On Lynas:

Lynas owes Jogmec/Soljitz US$205 million. They are referred to as the senior creditors and interest rate payable is 6.5% p.a

It technically also owes US$225 million as bonds held by Mt. Kellet with annual interest of 2.75%

On their last submission to ASX, Lynas informed their shareholders that:-

1. All interests due to the creditors from May to Sept 2016 are postponed to Dec 2016
2. The US$2 million payable on 30 June 2016 to Soljitz will be paid thru special redrawing rights agreed upon by both Lynas and their creditors from the restricted JARE account. (What it means is that the US$2 million will be taken from the pool of interests paid by Lynas to both the creditors.
3. The JARE restricted account has a balance of US$1.37 million. Lynas needs the sum and has acquired permission from the creditors to allow them to withdraw it completely. It shall be paid back by Lynas in Dec 2016.

There will be no penalty or interests charged for these arrangements. Therefore, please judge for yourself the chances of Lynas' continued survival in operating the RE business.

Save Malaysia! Stop Lynas!