10:17AM Sep 20, 2012
Australian activists staged a protest outside Lynas Corporation’s head office in Sydney this afternoon against the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (Lamp) in Gebeng, Kuantan.
The environmental group Friends of the Earth said the protest took place at 10.30am Malaysia time (12.30pm Sydney time), outside the company’s office at Pitt Street and lasted about an hour.
According to Malaysian-based NGO Save Malaysia Stop Lynas (SMSL), between 30 and 40 people took part in the rally, including Malaysian expatriates.
The protesters, some wearing white Tyvek coveralls and gas masks, reportedly chanted “Shame Lynas, shame!” through loudspeakers while carrying placards that read “Stop Lynas”, “People before corporate greed!” and “Say ‘No’ to toxic plant in Malaysia”.
One of the group’s members, Tully McIntyre, said the protest was to express dissent over Lynas’ plan to export radioactive ore from Mount Weld in Australia to the Kuantan plant when it begins operations.
‘Don’t force project on unwilling community’
McIntyre said the Australian company should not be forcing the project on an unwilling international community.
“The campaign against Lynas in Malaysia is the biggest environmental campaign in Malaysian history. Australian activists will continue to show strong support with the Malaysians to stop Lynas exporting this toxic legacy,” she said.
“Lynas plans to export 22,000 tonnes of ore annually to Malaysia for processing, which risks polluting important mangrove coastal ecosystem and major sources of livelihood for local people in Malaysia.
“There are well over 700,000 people living in a 30km radius of Lamp.
“These people were not consulted about the refinery, (and there was no) proper environmental impact statement carried out for Lamp,” McIntyre also said.
She added that Lynas has applied to the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (Arpansa) to import waste back to Australia, saying, “If so, Australians are wondering where it would be stored.”
Australian activists want “more stringent research to be carried out in Australia and abroad before proceeding further”, she said.
Also addressing the protesters at the lunchtime protest was New South Wales Greens MP for Balmain, Jamie Parker (left).
SMSL quoted Parker as saying that “Lynas has not been transparent”, especially in claiming that its waste is safe.
The Malaysian regulator Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) had said that Lynas has given assurance that it would process its water leach purification (WLP) residues – that activists claim contain radioactivity – into commercial products, leaving no waste behind.
The board later said that Lynas has also given a letter of undertaking committing itself to remove the residue out of Malaysia, although a statement before that contradicts it when AELB said that the commitment to ship out the waste was non-binding on the TOL.
Last week, two members of the Western Australian Green Legislative Council joined the chorus of dissent against the plant’s impending operations after receiving its controversial temporary operating licence (TOL).
Lynn MacLaren and Robin Chapple in their joint statement blasted their government for “washing its hands” off its responsibilities.