Fuziah: MITI biased in Lynas review

Posted on May 26, 2011. Filed under: Pollution |

-The Malaysian Insider-
By Shannon Teoh
May 26, 2011

KUALA LUMPUR, May 26 — PKR vice president Fuziah Salleh accused the government today of discrimination against stakeholders in the ongoing review of the controversial RM700 million rare earth plant being constructed in Kuantan.

The Kuantan MP said the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) only invited readers of Sin Chew Daily, China Press and The Star to present their views to the review panel.

“In choosing only three newspapers, MITI has overlooked the Malay public that reads the Malay newspapers. At the same time MITI’s action has discriminated the readers of other English and Chinese newspapers,” Fuziah (picture) said.

Putrajaya bowed to public pressure last month and put the plant being built by Lynas Corp on ice last month pending a month-long review by international experts.

The Australian miner has faced mounting opposition by residents and environmentalists who fear a repeat of the radiation pollution from a similar plant in Bukit Merah, Ipoh.

The Asian Rare Earth (ARE) plant in Perak has been linked to birth defects and at least eight cases of leukaemia in the past five years, seven of which were fatal.

Nearly 20 years after it was shuttered, the plant is still the subject of a massive RM300 million cleanup exercise.

In recent weeks, green groups here and in Australia have been calling for the project to be nixed ahead of a scheduled September start, citing Lynas’s opaque plans on waste storage and transport management across 3,000km from the Mount Weld mine in Western Australia to the refinery in the Gebeng industrial zone.

Fuziah also said today she was informed the review panel would only meet stakeholders in private sessions.

She called for the panel to be more transparent and hold public forums where concerns could be heard by all.

She added that Kuantan citizens are the ones most affected by the plant and should be allocated the most time by the panel.

Despite the government review, Lynas expects no delay to its plans to begin operations in September as it maintains the plant is safe.

It is anticipating a windfall of RM8 billion a year from 2013 onwards from the rare earth metals that are crucial to the manufacture of high-technology products such as smartphones, hybrid cars and bombs.

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