NGOs say NO to Lynas’ toxic legacy -Malaysia must NOT renew Lynas’ licence to generate more toxic radioactive waste
21st July 2019
88 NGOs from all over Malaysia have so far signed onto a strongly worded petition demanding that Cabinet of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) Government NOT to renew the operating licence of the 100% Australian owned Lynas Advanced Materials Plant in Gebeng, near Kuantan in Pahang. More are expected to endorse the petition.
“We challenge any Minister and public servant wanting Lynas to continue operating in Malaysia to first fill their own backyard, then go and fill up Putrajaya and Pulau Langkawi with Lynas’ waste!”
“Lynas has misled Malaysia by giving two undertakings to remove its toxic radioactive waste from Malaysia even though Western Australia (WA) had made it clear back in 2011 that its waste would not be accepted into WA, where its Mount Weld mine is located. Now there are nearly half a million tonnes of waste sitting in inadequate storage dams that leak and overflow to contaminate our groundwater and the surrounding environment with nowhere to go.”
The waste stream known as water-leached purification (WLP) from Lynas’ contains long living low-level radioactive thorium which is a known cancer-causing substance. This waste is also contaminated with radioactive uranium, a range of toxic heavy metals, arsenic and a cocktail of chemicals.
Lynas’ own 2011 Safety Case Analysis report by Environ Consulting has stipulated that the WLP waste would be isolated from the biosphere in a permanent disposal facility away from the current site. Under the temporary licence conditions, a site for the PDF was to be found within ten months. In addition, about 1.2 million tonnes of Lynas’ scheduled waste has been stored on site against Malaysian regulations.
“Lynas has flaunted its licence conditions and its own undertakings including those in its Radioactive Waste Management Plan. Why have our regulators been so lenient with Lynas when Lynas enjoys a 12-year tax holiday for leaving us its toxic waste.?”
“We, the Rakyat, have work hard and pay our taxes to the Government. We expect a safe living environment and a hazard-free future for our family and future generations of Malaysians. We do not accept this raw toxic exploitation from Lynas.”
“Cabinet should take heed that Lynas’ financial position has always been precarious although it pays its executive staff fat salaries in AUD. Its ore consists mostly of light rare earth that is not worth much. Lynas could not even afford to pay Malaysia the US$50 million deposit in cash. Lynas has no intention to build a leak-proof PDF that can last at least 1,000 years appropriate for its thorium waste because it could not afford to do so.”
We do not want Lynas’ WLP waste to remain in Malaysia. Why should Malaysia sacrifice productive land to build Lynas’ mega-tomb for its toxic waste? Besides, the high risk of landslides and erosion in a wet tropical country like Malaysia makes it unsafe to house any toxic waste dump.”
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad made a surprise announcement while he was visiting Japan in late May that Malaysia would renew Lynas’ licence and that the radioactive waste should perhaps be spread out.
“Spreading out radioactive waste will expose more people to its hazards. Is Tun so obsessed with Lynas and its toxic investment that our health and our environment no longer matter to him?”
“We are appalled by the Flying Car Minister Mohd Redzuan Md Yusof advocating for Lynas to keep the toxic waste in Malaysia and more recently, the Bauxite Minister Xavier Jayakumar on rare earth heat wanting to exploit the country’s projected RM700 billion rare earth resources.”
“That RM700billion price tag is more like what Malaysia would have to pay to clean up Lynas’ mega toxic waste and spread-out contamination in 10 years’ time; to pay for the healthcare costs of rising cancer cases to be treated in our hospitals and the losses sustained by fishery and tourism industries due to Lynas’ piles of toxic wastes that have completely ruined the local economy.”
“We are alarmed by these ministers championing Lynas’ corporate profit at the expense of Malaysia’s environment and public health. We voted for PH on May 9 last year because we wanted a clean and sustainable Malaysia.”
“We welcome other groups to join us in our petition to demand Tun and his Cabinet to prioritised Malaysia and Malaysians FIRST instead of Lynas to keep Malaysia clean and green. Any group yet to sign onto our petition can contact SMSL, Greenpeace or any of the groups in the list to add onto our list. We will present the petition to Cabinet Ministers and MPs in the Parliament Caucus
For further comments, please contact:
· Mr Tan Bun Teet - Hp: +60 179 730 576
· Mr Heng KC Hp: +016 319 8278
LAMP - From an intact peat mangrove to a toxic industrial site
Peat fire near LAMP – June 2019
Key Facts on AELB’s Failures as a Regulator
· https://www.eco-business.com/news/lynas-bound-to-remove-all-residue/ Back in 2012, then Head of AELB “Raja Datuk Abdul Aziz Raja Adnan said Lynas was legally bound to ensure that all residue was removed and that AELB would enforce it”.
“Raja Datuk Abdul Aziz said the TOL approved to Lynas Malaysia was subject to the conditions imposed, including an additional two under subsection 32(5) of the Atomic Energy Licensing Act.”
· AELB failed to act on Lynas’ violation of licence conditions.
§ 1st February 2012 – AELB approved Lynas’s application for a Temporary Operating Licence (TOL) with a set of pre-conditions, and where necessary, to return the waste to its source – see TOL attachment for details. In truth, Lynas has never fulfilled conditions (i) to (iii) and AELB has never made public any detailed plan for the permanent disposal facility (PDF) including its location, even though a PDF was supposed to be finalised and approved within 10 months from the TOL.
§ AELB went ahead to issue Lynas with a Full-Stage Operating Licence (FSOL) in September 2014 and renew the FSOL in September 2016, still without any details of a PDF or any commercialisation possibility of Lynas’ wastes. DoE would have access to the ground water contamination monitoring data by then but it simply went along with the 3-year FSOL renewal.
AELB Failed to Follow Through Recommendations by the IAEA (related to the WLP waste)
The 2011 IAEA Mission report made it very clear that its assessment has been made specifically for consideration at the pre-operating licensing stage decision making, and cannot be relied on for subsequent stages of operations.
None of the IAEA Reports in 2011 or 2014 has concluded that the Lynas rare earth refinery operation is safe. In fact, IAEA made 11 recommendations for improvement from the 2011 review and made more suggestions from its 2014 follow up mission.
Listed here are examples of the findings, although this is not an exhaustive list. Many suggestions were made by the 2014 IAEA follow-up review mission as there were outstanding issues yet to be satisfactorily addressed by AELB and/or Lynas.
· IAEA’s reference to “low risk” applies to the plant and NOT the WLP waste. In any case the risk refers to cancer risk, a fatal illness which most sane people would do every thing to avoid getting.
· Page 7 of the 2014 IAEA Mission Report has highlighted AELB’s failure to ensure that Lynas’ WLP waste has a safe permanent disposal plan and that Lynas has not updated its Safety Case Analysis of its inadequate WLP waste storage. A Safety Case is a critical aspect of graded approach to radiation safety and protection
· Page 11 of the 2014 IAEA report was scathing of Lynas’ public relation exercise by installing useless radioactivity reading displays instead of seriously monitoring radioactivity of the wastewater discharged from the LAMP into the Balok River.
· Page 9 to 12 outline the incomplete radiological monitoring effort of Lynas and 3 further suggestions for Lynas to improve on its environmental radioactivity monitoring, especially of the aquatic pathway; to provide more detailed modelling of the ecological and public health impacts of radioactive effluents to the Balok River
· Page 13 highlights IAEA’s dissatisfaction with AELB’s poor efforts and basis used to determine and recover from Lynas costs of long-term management of waste including decommissioning and remediation. AELB’s failure will lead to undue financial burden being passed onto Malaysians in the future.
· In page 18, IAEA further emphasized the need for AELB and Lynas to be transparent with the licensing process and to regularly provide updated online information by making key documents accessible to the public.
· In page 20, IAEA suggested that Lynas engaged pro-actively with a wide range of stakeholders including its opponents; and to make available online monitoring data to the public.
Weblinks for the IAEA Reports are as follows: