Free Malaysia Today – Anti-Lynas protest against licence issuance

Stephanie Sta Maria | January 26, 2012

The feedback against the rare earth plant came to 2,000 pages and was given to the Atomic Energy Licencing Board (AELB) for review.

PETALING JAYA: A few hundred concerned residents of Kuantan gathered outside the Pahang State Secretariat building this morning for the handing over of the final submission of feedback on Lynas (M) Sdn Bhd’s application for a temporary operating licence.

Public viewing of the 300-page document ended yesterday after three weeks and today marks the deadline for all feedback to be submitted to the Atomic Energy Licencing Board (AELB) for review.

An AELB official was presented with a compilation of submissions from various individuals and groups including the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA), Pahang Bar Council, Save Malaysia Stop Lynas (SMSL) and Stop Lynas Coalition (SLC).

SMSL yesterday called for the public to gather en masse to reject the issuance of the pre-operating licence for Lynas’ controversial RM2.5 billion rare earth plant in Gebeng.

According to SMSL chairman, Tan Bun Teet, about 300 people gathered in the State Secretariat grounds by 9am under the watchful eyes of plainclothes and uniformed police personnel as well as Special Branch officials.

“Even the Kuantan OCPD (Mohd Jasmani Yusof) was there but all the police did was attempt to limit the number of people entering the grounds,” Tan said. “Otherwise everything went smoothly.”

Also present were Kuantan MP cum PKR Vice President, Fuziah Salleh and PAS Information Chief, Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man who also submitted feedback from the respective groups of supporters.

“The compilation of submissions from all quarters totaled 2,000 pages,” Tan told FMT. “We handed it over to an AELB officer on duty at the public viewing room.”

Lynas’ weak application

During the press conference that followed the handover of submissions, Tan expressed his disappointment over the “very weak application” presented by Lynas calling its proposed waste management plan “full of holes and totally unsafe”.

“Lynas proposed to turn its waste into commercial gypsum and fertiliser enhancer,” he told the crowd. “If accepted, this plan will result in hazardous and radioactive substances being scattered into residential houses, offices, farms and plantations.”

SLC spokesperson, Andansura Rabu, stressed the need for government insistence that Lynas carry out detailed environmental impact and social impact assessments before considering any further application of licence for the Lynas Advanced Material Plant (LAMP).

“Both of these documents when done should be easily accessible to the public with adequate time to comment and scrutinise,” he added.

Rabu also pointed out Lynas’ threat to the towns and villages along the coast from Kuantan to Kemaman that consist mainly of traditional fishing communities.

“Contaminated water from the Lynas plant will be discharged into the Balok River which drains into the South China Sea risking serious pollution of these important fishing grounds and tourism hotspots,” he said.

SMSL and SLC have since raised funds in the event that legal action has to be taken if Lynas is allowed to operate despite its unsafe waste management strategy.

“We hope the government will seriously consider the comments and suggestions presented through the submissions,” Tan said. “Or else we will have no choice but to take the matter to the court.”

Lynas expects a decision on the issuance of its temporary operating licence to be made when the AELB board meets next Monday.

But AELB director general, Raja Abdul Aziz Raja Adnan, has said that while Lynas will be on the agenda, the board may not reach a decision on the abovementioned date.

Lynas yesterday announced that it has raised US$225 million (RM700 million) in bonds to complete Phase One of the plant and will be delaying operations to the second quarter of the year.

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