Free Malaysia Today – Fuziah ‘tears up’ IAEA report

Tashny Sukumaran | June 30, 2011

The staunch anti-Lynas protester will come up with an alternative report with the help of an Australian radiation consultant.

KUALA LUMPUR: Kuantan MP and staunch anti-Lynas protester Fuziah Salleh today “tore up” the IAEA report, claiming that it had glossed over several important aspects related to the Lynas Corp rare earth plant in Gebeng, Kuantan.

“The report is based on Lynas’ input data. It’s impossible to find anything that is non-compliant as it’s all on paper…” she said.

The report contained recommendations drawn up by the nine-man International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) panel which reviewed the plant.

Fuziah raised some key concerns, such as the long-term waste management plan that Lynas was required to come up with.

“I challenge them to come up with one that follows best practices, as opposed to the poor plans in China,” she said, citing the rare earth plant on Mount Pass, California, which has one of the
most stringent waste management programmes introduced.

“We need systems like evaporating the waste, and keeping it in concrete bunkers lined with lead. Lynas talks about keeping the waste onsite forever.”

She scoffed at Lynas’ claim that it would have met all the recommendations by the end of the year.

“Some of these things are outside the control of Lynas. How can Lynas speak so confidently when the government’s Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) will need to finalise some of
these recommendations?”

She dismissed the report, saying that “the report seems to say things are okay, but read between the lines. The IAEA is trying to say in a very nice way that Malaysia cannot do it.”

Fuziah, who is PKR vice-president, said that she would provide an alternative report with the help of an Australian radiation consultant.

Lynas said today that it expects the 11 recommendations set out in the report to be met by the end of the year, allowing it to begin selling the rare earth metals by the beginning of 2012.

‘Lynas not keen in open meeting’

Fuziah also criticised Lynas executive chairman Nicholas Curtis for his refusal to hold a public meeting with her with the media present.

“He’s not interested in engaging (in a public discussion). I won’t waste my time with him, he’s
just trying to make myself look good.”

She said that the Lynas chairman was “hiding” behind the International Trade and Technology Ministry; the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry; and the AELB.

“I have everything to lose if I make a fool of myself during an open meeting,” she said. “But I am prepared to go through it.”

The RM700 million refinery is being constructed by Australia’s Lynas Corp, which plans to ship the rare earth ore mined from Western Australia’s Mount Weld to the Gebeng plant.

Rare earth metals, crucial to high-technology products such as Boeing airplanes, smart bombs, Apple’s iPhone and the Toyota Prius, have become increasingly vital.

Currently, China has a chokehold on rare earth, as it mines and refines at least 95% of the global supply of rare earth.

However, the rare earth plant has evoked fears of radiation contamination.

Lynas anticipates revenue of RM8 billion per year from 2013 onwards, and will enjoy a 12-year tax break, which the government has described as a “standard investment agreement”.

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