Keep Lynas plant out

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Does it not seem unconscionable that ore containing radioactive material should be shipped 4000km from Australia to Malaysia for the monetary gain of Lynas while the people of Kuantan are left to face the long-term effects of the waste, asks Vincent Jiam.

A protest against Lynas rare earth refinery in Gebeng

Lynas Advanced Material Plant (LAMP) now under construction in Gebeng, Kuantan

We, the residents of Kuantan, Pahang, Malaysia are extremely concerned over the proposed construction and operation of the above plant.

It is common knowledge that :

  • LAMP will be processing rare earths oxide which contains Thorium
  • Thorium is a known radioactive material.
  • The mineral monazite which contains the Thorium is mined at Mount Weld in Western Australia and will be shipped to Kuantan, through Freemantle Port for processing at LAMP.

As your country is the originator of this dangerous material, it is only right that your country must take responsibility for its presence here in this country.

We are not convinced by the assurances of LAMP (and others allied to their cause) that LAMP is safe. If it truly were so, surely then your country should readily keep that industry within its borders or at the very least be prepared to take back the waste (which contains the deadly thorium). But your country has flatly refused to take back their own waste (The Star, 12 April 2011, p.N23).

Malaysians have had experience with Thorium in the Bukit Merah plant in Ipoh, Perak. The consequences of that fiasco are still continuing. Children born deformed or retarded are still alive but unable to articulate their plight while some have lost their lives to cancer.

READ MORE:  The Malaysian town still haunted by radioactive pollution 30 years after rare earth refinery shut

LAMP claims that their plant is totally different from that of the Bukit Merah facility and that the level of radioactivity is very low. But we remain unconvinced nor are we prepared to experiment with our health and lives and those of our future generations.

We, the residents of Kuantan, appeal to your higher values and call upon you to do all that you can to stop the shipment of this Thorium-containing material from your country.

Surely, your country, being a respectable member of the international community, would not allow an international convention to be flouted or circumvented.

Your Excellency, we, the people of Kuantan, do not want in our midst LAMP or for that matter any other company that produces any form of radioactive material.

Your Excellency, does it not seem unconscionable to you that ore containing this radioactive material should be shipped 4000km from your country to Malaysia for the monetary gain of LAMP while the people of Kuantan are left to face the long-term effects of the obnoxious waste?

This Thorium waste, as your Excellency would already know, is radioactive and has a ½ life of 14 billion years. Thus, for generations to come, we, the people of Malaysia, will be exposed to the risks of radioactive contamination.

Your Excellency, this movement is inspired by the most lofty ideals – that of human lives and health. We are resolved to continue our struggle to safeguard our air, water and soil from LAMP’s (and others’) deadly waste. The vast majority of Malaysians share our mission. We again exhort you to do all that you can within your power to stop the dangerous ore from leaving your own shores.

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We trust you understand and share our concerns. Many Australians in fact, already do, as the internet reveals.

Mr Robin Chapple, MLC, Member for the Mining and Pastoral Region is “deeply worried” as expressed in his media release dated 13 April 2011. I annex a copy of the release downloaded from the internet, for your further reading.

I trust that you will act as a good citizen of the world, and of Australia in particular.

20 May 2011

Vincent Jiam is chairperson of the Save Malaysia Committee based in Kuantan.

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

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