Video Clip – Al Jazeera on Bersih 2.0 Rally in Kuala Lumpur 9 July 2011

July 9, 2011: The day Malaysia woke up and realised it cannot hide nor ignore its deep divisions for much longer…

The only reason why the BN government is against transparency and electoral reform is because they have been manipulating the electoral process in the first place…

Time to vote them out of office, don’t you think?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bersih_2.0_rally

by TowkayBandrek on 9 Jul 2011

ABC Asia Pacific News: Anger over rare earths refinery

http://abcasiapacificnews.com/stories/201105/3222580.htm?site=canberra

Last Updated: Fri, 20 May 2011 21:18:00 +1000

Australian mining company Lynas is facing a backlash in Malaysia over the construction of a plant to refine rare earths.

The plant’s main waste contains the radioactive element thorium linked to birth defects and leukaemia and the people of Kuantan say they do not want it in their backyard.

The local community and environmental groups have raised concerns over the management of radioactive waste from the refinery. [Australia Network]
PHOTO

The local community and environmental groups have raised concerns over the management of radioactive waste from the refinery. [Australia Network]

But Lynas says the waste is safe and the Malaysian government had given approval for the plant to go ahead.

Recently, the Malaysian government bowed to public pressure and announced an inquiry into the safety of the plant.

It has appointed an independent panel of international experts to review the health and safety aspects of the project and report their findings to the government.

Local people say they are determined to stop the plant regardless of what the investigation finds.

Kuantan’s federal member of parliament, Fuziah Salleh, has been instrumental in mounting the campaign to stop the refinery plant.

On May 20 she led community groups from Kuantan in a protest march against Lynas to the Australian High Commission in Kuala Lumpur.

Ms Salleh is critical of what she says are lower environmental standards in Malaysia and double standards from Lynas.

“I’m very concerned that Lynas is taking advantage of the local laws and does not implement what it is supposed to implement in Australia, but rather use lower standards here in Malaysia,” she said.

“There has not been an industry, a refinery as large as Lynas outside China prior to this one.

“And that should have alerted our authorities to be more stringent, look into it more closely, to consult the public as well as to weigh the risk that this refinery will bring to the communities.”

According to Ms Salleh, the risk comes from the waste that will contain thorium left over once the rare earths are extracted.

Thorium occurs at low levels naturally in the environment but if ingested in food or water or inhaled through contaminated dust can increase the risk of cancer.

Refinery location
The city of Kuantan is located on Malaysia?s east coast about three hours from Kuala Lumpur. It is known for tourism and fishing.

In 2008, the government of Pahang State agreed to a plan to host the Lynas advanced materials plant.

The refinery is intended to supply a third of the world?s demand for rare earths, by processing concentrated ore shipped to Malaysia from the Mount Weld mine in Western Australia.

Rare earths are a group of elements used in high tech equipment including phones and computers, hybrid cars and missiles.

Lynas were reportedly attracted to Malaysia by the 12-year tax free holiday offered by the government to boost investment.

Lynas’s executive chairman, Nick Curtis, said Kuantan was chosen as the location for the plant to take advantage of skilled labour there.

“We move it (concentrate) to a location where there is an advantage for us which is an existing chemical park where we can get the chemicals, where there’s sufficient water, where there’s gas and cheap energy, where there’s good, skilled labour,” he said.

“And on the east coast of Malaysia there is good, skilled labour.”

But an engineer and advisor to the Environmental Protection Society of Malaysia, Gurmit Singh, believes Malaysia was chosen because of relaxed environmental laws.

“Why don’t they do the processing in Australia? Why send it to Malaysia? It is the perfect example of a polluting industry being exported to a developing country,” he said.

Local objections
The local community and environmental groups have raised concerns over the management of radioactive waste from the refinery.

They say the waste product thorium will affect fishing, tourism and public health.

The Anti-Lynas group Save Malaysia Stop Lynas spokesperson, Vincent Jiam, said the community was not prepared to face the impacts the waste could have.

“The bigger impact is that the amount of waste, radioactive waste, that’s been permanently stored here, I feel that our people are not prepared to be committed to bear this burden,” he said.

But Lynas’s executive chairman Nick Curtis claims his company is the victim of a campaign of misinformation which has riled community fears.

“Now our job is to be very transparent to the community, give them the facts and encourage them to deal with those facts and think about the facts and know that the plant is safe.”

Mr Curtis said there is no discernible risk to the community of radiation exposure even for workers inside the plant.

“For somebody who works full-time in the concentrate plant at the end of the year they have had a radiation exposure less than if they’d had three X-rays during the year, so virtually nil and of no safety health hazard,” he said.

But an environmental engineer from Monash University, Dr Gavin Mudd, said one of the concerns about the Kuantan project was the lack of detail being provided by the company.

“There’s more than one waste stream that comes out of a process plant like a rare earths plant. So we need to have a full account of where all the inputs comes from and where all the waste goes and where the thorium sits in all of that,” Dr Mudd said.

“I think until we’ve got a full, transparent, public account of that then I think there are good reasons to have concerns.”

History repeated
Vincent Jiam operates a kindergarten in Kuantan and was so concerned about the refinery?s potential impact that he became chairman of the Save Malaysia Stop Lynas Group.

He said 20-years ago Mitsubishi chemicals was forced to shut its Asian Rare Earth plant in Bukit Merah near Penang because of thorium radiation.

A recent investigation by the New York Times newspaper found around Bukit Merah there was a higher level than normal of leukaemia and birth defects. The company continues to clean up the disaster.

Mr Jiam said he was concerned history would be repeated.

“In the past it was Asian Rare Earth and the after effects was actually very bad for our people,” he said.

But Lynas executive chairman Nick Curtis said the situation at Bukit Merah was different.

“Bukit Merah was a very different material with a very, very much higher level of radioactive materials in the residue material,” he said.

The $230 million plant is due to start operating in September.

VIDEO

Malaysian anti-Lynas campaign gains strength

Created: Fri, 13 May 2011 11:22:12 GMT+0800

AUDIO from Connect Asia

Protest against minerals processing plant

Created: Fri, 20 May 2011 11:22:12 GMT+0800

ABC Radio Australia: Msian protest outside Aust High Comm re Lynas

http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/asiapac/stories/201105/s3222947.htm

Updated May 20, 2011 21:15:20

Protestors have rallied outside the Australian High Commission in Kuala Lumpur demanding that a rare earth processing plant be abandoned.

The plant being built in Malaysia by Australia’s Lynas Corporation will refine rare earth minerals from Western Australian iron ore. But the material contains the low level radioactive element thorium – and Malaysian activists say Australia should process it at home.

Correspondent: Zoe Daniel
Speaker: Rozaini Mohammed Rosli, spokeswoman for anti-rare earth Lynas refinery activists

DANIEL: The campaign against the Lynas plant seems to be gaining momentum. Activists who have been voicing their opposition in the media have now held a rally outside the Australian High Commission in Kuala Lumpur.

Spokeswoman Rozaini Mohammed Rosli says they submitted a memorandum to the high commissioner explaining their concerns – and demanding that the plant be stopped.

ROZAINI: Being an Australian company, the people of Malaysia would like that company to shift, operating their own operations in Australia, and not come here and establish any operational factory or such.

DANIEL: The plant will process iron ore shipped from WA that contains the low level radioactive element thorium.
The lucrative rare earth minerals obtained will be used in high tech batteries, TVs, mobile phones and aviation technology.
Within two years, the plant is expected to meet a third of world demand for the materials outside China and will yield 1.7 billion dollars a year in exports.

But the activists say Malaysia doesn’t need it. The country is still cleaning up an old Mitsubishi Chemicals rare earth plant at Bukit Merah that contaminated the area and caused birth defects and leukaemia in the population.

Rozaini Mohammed Rosli says another plant is not worth the risk.

ROZAINI: We don’t have a guarantee for the safety of the people in the future.

DANIEL: Do you think it’s realistic that the Malaysian government will stop the plant from going ahead, when it’s at such an advanced stage?

ROZAINI: They have to be a responsible government. They have so far, declined to expose any kind of information to the people. They should have consulted the people before engaging, or even thinking of having such a plant in the country.

DANIEL: But do you realistically think you can stop it now?

ROZAINI: We will try our best.

DANIEL: Is there anything that the Lynas Group could do to alleviate your concerns?

ROZAINI: Yeah, they can just stop the plant from continuing.

DANIEL: But the Lynas plant is almost complete and should open before the end of the year. The company says it will be processing ore with radioactivity less than 20 times lower than the old plant that made people sick. In a statement though, Lynas Corporation says that it respects the community’s right to speak out about the plant and welcomes the appointment of an independent panel to study the project.

ABC News – Australian rare earth plant ‘too toxic’

http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2011/05/20/3222942.htm?section=world

Australian rare earth plant ‘too toxic’

By South-East Asia correspondent Zoe Daniel, wires

Updated Fri May 20, 2011 9:59pm AEST

PreviousNextSlideshow: Photo 1 of 2

Activists say they are not happy with the waste disposal plans of the company.

Activists say they are not happy with the waste disposal plans of the company. (AFP: Mohd Rasfan )

More than 150 people have demonstrated outside the Australian High Commission in Kuala Lumpur against a plant that will process radioactive iron ore in Malaysia.

The Lynas plant will extract rare earth minerals with low levels of radioactive thorium from Western Australia, which are used in high-tech manufacturing of everything from iPods and mobile phones to missiles.

Activists say they are not happy with the waste disposal plans of the company and they do not want the almost completed plant to open.

Under a heavy police presence, protesters held posters that read “Too toxic! Too risky!” and “We don’t want Lynas” and “Lynas, go back to Australia”.

Following public concern that the plant could produce radioactive waste, the government said last month it would not issue a pre-operating licence to Lynas and bar imports of raw materials from Australia to be processed at the facility, pending a review by an independent panel of UN atomic energy experts.

The protesters also appealed to the embassy to stop the plant or at least take back the radioactive waste they say it will produce.

“We, the residents of Kuantan, Pahang, Malaysia are extremely concerned over the proposed construction and operation” of the plant, Vincent Jiam, chairman of the Save Malaysia Committee, said in a memorandum sent to the Australian High Commission.

In a statement, Lynas said it welcomed the government’s review and insisted that its storage plans for the rare earths and waste at the plant were safe and represented no hazard to the community.

“The Radiological Impact Assessment completed by Nuclear Malaysia (Malaysia’s atomic agency) on the storage of these residues shows them to be safe, posing no risk to the public,” it said.

“However, Lynas has taken the additional safety step of placing these residues in safe, reliable engineered storage cells that are designed so that there is no possibility for any leakage of material into the environment.”

ABC/AFP

Tags: industry, mining, mining, pollution, activism-and-lobbying, iron-ore , environmental-impact, australia, wa, malaysia

First posted Fri May 20, 2011 9:13pm AEST

Malaysiakini.TV: 200 protest Lynas plant at Australian embassy

Transcript of Member of Malaysian Parliament for Kuantan Fuziah Salleh’s “Stop Lynas Solidarity Walk 2011”? press conference outside the Australian High Commission in Kuala Lumpur on 20 May 2011 as given below:

FUZIAH SALLEH:

“We have handed over the Memorandum and I think we spent nearly an hour inside there and Arthur Squirel, the number two in the Australian High Commission has been very, very helpful, supportive, and very attentive to everything that we have said…our concerns and all of us spoke…the Chair, Vincent…spoke.

We spoke…we informed our concerns…among our concerns are…we are very concern about the incapability and the incompetency of the Malaysian Government to be able to manage such a refinery and there’s no such refinery outside China…and we do not have a benchmark…we do not have a best practice and we certainly do not want to use the best practice of China…and as such we are very, very concern that the Malaysian government will not be able to manage it.

In Australia, Lynas has received a license to buld a refinery plant in Australia, but Lynas chose not to use the license because the license will ask Lynas to be very, very stringent with regard to the environmental compliance.

The regulator in Australia is the EPA, the Environmental Protection Authority, and they have to commit to 41 commitments in various areas and various aspects… from transportation to process to buffer zones, to ground water to waste management, whereas in Malaysia, the regulator is the AELB… they are only concerned with radioactive levels.   They do not look into the other aspects of transportation, the monitoring of waste, processing, the environmental, ground water, whether there is spillage…

In Australia, they will be doing it in every area – they will buffer zone of 30 kilometres…

In Gebeng, 30KM radius, there are 700,000 people living in that 30KM radius around Gebeng…

In Australia, there will be buffer zone of 30KM and no one can live in that area.

So, you see, we are very concerned that Lynas is using double standards. Lynas is not doing it in Australia because it is so difficult to comply.?Lynas is taking advantage of the loopholes in our laws.

Lynas is taking advantage of the lax in our environmental laws.

So, as such we also have experts who have had experience in Bukit Merah. Dr Jeya…You can also talk to him after this…he will explain to you what he went through with the Bukit Merah residents. How it was a very, very long struggle to put the plant to a stop.

Mitsubishi Corp. had so much experience… they are so established. Lynas had no plant prior to this.

What we are saying is that Lynas do not have the capacity to comply.

Malaysia does not have the capacity to enforce.

Gebeng is not the right place.

We do not want it in Gebeng.

We do not want it in anywhere in Malaysia.

If Lynas want to have such a plant, they must go back to Australia and do it in Australia and use their license that they have in Australia.

They should not take advantage of the Malaysian people.

We may be a developing nation, but the people in Malaysia, especially in Kuantan knows what we want and what we want is: “We do not want Lynas.”

Video Clip & Transcript – Kuantan MP Fuziah Salleh’s Press Conference outside Australian High Commission

After handing over the Memorandum to the Australian High Commissioner in Kuala Lumpur, Member of Malaysian Parliament for Kuantan and Vice President of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), Fuziah Salleh with the delegation of “People’s Green Coalition” and “Stop Lynas, Save Malaysia” held a press conference outside the Australian High Commission on 20 May 2011 with transcript and speech of Fuziah as given below:

FUZIAH SALLEH:

“We have handed over the Memorandum and I think we spent nearly an hour inside there and Arthur Squirel, the number two in the Australian High Commission has been very, very helpful, supportive, and very attentive to everything that we have said…our concerns and all of us spoke…the Chair, Vincent…spoke.

We spoke…we informed our concerns…among our concerns are…we are very concern about the incapability and the incompetency of the Malaysian Government to be able to manage such a refinery and there’s no such refinery outside China…and we do not have a benchmark…we do not have a best practice and we certainly do not want to use the best practice of China…and as such we are very, very concern that the Malaysian government will not be able to manage it.

In Australia, Lynas has received a license to buld a refinery plant in Australia, but Lynas chose not to use the license because the license will ask Lynas to be very, very stringent with regard to the environmental compliance.

The regulator in Australia is the EPA, the Environmental Protection Authority, and they have to commit to 41 commitments in various areas and various aspects… from transportation to process to buffer zones, to ground water to waste management, whereas in Malaysia, the regulator is the AELB… they are only concerned with radioactive levels. They do not look into the other aspects of transportation, the monitoring of waste, processing, the environmental, ground water, whether there is spillage…

In Australia, they will be doing it in every area – they will buffer zone of 30 kilometres…

In Gebeng, 30KM radius, there are 700,000 people living in that 30KM radius around Gebeng…”

Video & Transcript by Rozaini Mohd Rosli