TVSelangor09: Lebih 200 Aktivis Kuantan Bantah Kilang Tanah Jarang Lynas 30 Mar 2011

Close to 200 residents held a demonstration at Parliament, Kuala Lumpur this morning to protest against a rare earth processing project by Australian mining company Lynas Corporation in Gebeng, Kuantan.

The group left Kuantan at 2am this morning in four buses and began their demonstration outside the gates of Parliament at 8am.
Members of the rally, which included people of all ages including school children, carried banners that read “Stop Lynas” and Selamatkan Malaysia (Save Malaysia) and shouted slogans under the watchful eyes of the police and the Federal Reserve Unit (FRU).

The police allowed 10 representatives to enter Parliament to hand a memorandum to the Prime Minister and all 222 Members of Parliament. Kuantan MP YB Fuziah Salleh leaded them into the Parliament building.

Appointed leader of the protest group, Vincent Jiam had attempted to meet Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak personally at the PM’s office in Parliament, but claimed he was prevented by an officer.

At a press conference later, Jiam accompanied by Fuziah took the opportunity to deliver a strongly worded message to the PM and to Lynas in front of the cameras.

“To Lynas, please go home. Go back to Australia. Don’t leave anything behind.”

Malaysiakini.TV – Residents to Lynas Go back to Australia 30 March 2011

A group of Pahang residents accompanied by Kuantan MP YB Fuzaih Salleh has urged Australia’s Lynas Corp to “pack up and leave” Malaysia and abandon plans to build a rare earth refinery in Gebeng, near Kuantan.

Vincent Jiam, leader of a group of Pahang residents protesting the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP) near Kuantan, said that plant would bring more harm than good.

“Please pack up and leave and go home. Don’t leave anything behind… don’t even leave your slippers behind,” he told reporters at the Parliament lobby today.

The Malaysian Insider – Kuantan MP to fight rare earth plant in two parliaments

By Debra Chong and Shannon Teoh

March 10, 2011


Fuziah has received scant support in her bid to halt the rare earth plant in Kuantan. – file pic

KUALA LUMPUR, March 10 – As Australian mining giant Lynas Corp readies to fire up its rare earths refinery in Kuantan, lawmakers here and Down Under are joining hands to halt its progress and prevent a potential environmental and health disaster.

Kuantan MP Fuziah Salleh has said she is working together with her counterparts in Australia’s Green Party to pressure their respective governments to look deeper into the environmental and health risks posed by the US$230 million (RM700 million) project and set up safeguards before Lynas starts operations at the Kuantan facility.

Rare earths are a group of minerals that are increasingly vital to the manufacture of high-technology products – ranging from mobile phones and televisions to energy-saving fluorescent light bulbs – and contain low-levels of radioactive material.

“The Green Party MPs in Australia are going to pressure their Australian government to tell Lynas not to dump their waste in Malaysia,” the opposition MP told The Malaysian Insider yesterday.

Rare earths contain low-levels of radioactive material. – Reuteters pic

On her side, Fuziah said she is lobbying the Najib administration to compel Lynas to take back its waste to Australia for disposal.

One of the biggest worries, she said, was over Lynas’s waste management plans.

Terengganu – which was Lynas’s first choice – had rejected the Australian company’s proposal in 2007, bowing to pressure from green groups for the same concerns, she noted.

“I plan to speak on Monday. I am the only MP who takes up this issue in Parliament… It’s a lonely battle,” the 51-year-old said, adding that she received little support even from her colleagues in the Pakatan Rakyat.

Perak DAP chief, Datuk Ngeh Koo Ham, told The Malaysian Insider he too was against the Lynas plant, after reading a New York Times report yesterday highlighting a decades-old radioactive disaster in his Perak home state.

“We should not bring to our shores things that have been rejected by others,” the Beruas MP said when contacted.

TheNew York Times reported eight leukaemia cases over the last five years in the former mining town of Bukit Merah, the site of a rare earths refinery for Japanese company, Mitsubishi Chemicals back in the 1990s.

The influential US newspaper added that the community of 11,000 people should only have one case every 30 years under normal circumstances.

Locals there have blamed Mitsubishi Chemicals for the spate of birth defects suffered by former workers exposed to the radioactive material, a view shared by healthcare personnel treating those affected by the radiation.

Ngeh said he understood that the world needs rare earth, and if a plant were to be built in Kuantan, it must be far away from residential areas and waste products should be disposed of safely.

But Fuziah said incidents of toxic effluents leaching into the ground and contaminating water sources nationwide have been widely reported, adding that it had already affected Sungai Balok, which runs through the industrial area just north of Kuantan and into the South China Sea.

The New York Times also wrote that the Lynas plant, which is being built in Gebeng, will house radiation sensors and the latest equipment in pollution control, besides featuring 12 acres of temporary storage pools that will be lined with dense plastic and sit atop nearly impermeable clay, to hold the slightly radioactive by-products until they can be carted away.

Minerals refined from rare earth are used in a wide range of consumer electronics. – Reuters pic

“There have been no clear procedures how they are going to remove the radioactive by-products,” Fuziah said.

“No EIA either,” she added, referring to the environmental impact assessment that is required by law before a project is approved by the authorities.

Kuantan is Malaysia’s biggest fishing base.

Truckloads of seafood caught off its coast are delivered daily to markets throughout the peninsula.

According to Fuziah, who is a PKR vice-president, both the federal and state governments had shrugged off the possible radioactive risks.

“He said it was similar to the foam used in fire-fighting,” Fuziah said, relating her conversation with Pahang Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob, on the risk posed by the lathanides (the scientific name for the rare earth metal).

Pahang state lawmakers within the greater Kuantan parliamentary constituency have backed Adnan’s view.

“Even some granite stones have more radiation than a lanthanide. Even amang is higher,” Pang Tsu Ming, state assemblyman of Semambu, told The Malaysian Insider when contacted.

Amang is a by-product of tin mining.

The MCA man was one of two state lawmakers in Pahang who had been invited to visit the Lynas mine in Western Australia, over 800km northeast of Perth, about two years ago, and tested the ore for radioactivity.

Pang’s colleague, Chang Hong Seong, said they too were initially worried about the residual waste from the refining process.

But they said the Australian trip helped to change their minds.

Chang who is Teruntu assemblyman said they were told Lynas has struck a deal with another company to turn the waste product into concrete.

“We will not pursue economic development at the expense of environment and people?s health,” he said.