Lynas opponents gears up for IAEA meet

Posted on May 29, 2011. Filed under: Pollution |

Opponents to the rare earth processing plant in Gebeng, Pahang will be raising five main issues during a public hearing by the United Nation’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Kuantan tomorrow.

During a meeting of about 200 stakeholders in Kuantan today, it was decided that five groups will be speaking to the IAEA on issues involving: Law, health, environment, local issues and politics.

According to Kuantan MP Fuziah Salleh, each group would be given just 30 minutes to state their case during the hearing, which is part of a review on the safety of the plant, officially called the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (Lamp).

The Pahang Bar Council will be heading the legal team which would argue about the lack of public consultation and request for a detailed environmental impact assessment (DEIA) to be performed by an independent body.

“They will highlight the lack of transparency in the details of the project as the people in the constituency and other affected areas were left out of the loop,” said Fuziah.

Petition to submitted

On the topic of health, the Pahang chapter of the Malaysian Medical Association would be presenting its case on potential exposure to radiation and how this has yet to be addressed by the government.

On the environment, Sahabat Alam Malaysia and the Malaysian Nature Society would be speaking on the dangers of the plant on the surrounding flora and fauna.

Local resident group Badan Bertindak Anti-Lynas Rare Earth (BBAR) will be speaking about how the plant would be cause problems for the livelihood of about 10,000 residents who live within a 2km radius of the plant.

Meanwhile, Fuziah will be submitting a petition with 50,000 signatures collected since the project was unveiled last year.

Lamp was scheduled to begin producing rare earth, which are crucial in the production of high-tech goods from fibre-optic cables to smartphones and electric cars, beginning September.

But critics are concerned over exposure to radioactive material present in the ore containing rare earth and are questioning why the ore is processed in Malaysia instead of its source Australia.

Closed door hearing

Opponents are also worried that the plant would cause harm associated with the now defunct Bukit Merah rare earth refinery in Perak which was decommissioned in the 1990s after locals within the vicinity reported birth defects and suffered radiation related illnesses.

In a bid to quell growing public discontent, the government announced that it will not issue a pre-operating licence to Lynas and has barred imports of the ore until the panel completes its review.

In all, the IAEA panel will be hearing two closed-door hearings and might conduct a site visit during their stay in Kuantan from Monday to Wednesday.

The panel will be holding separate hearings in Putrajaya on Thursday and Friday, where their visit would come to an end. They are expected to submit their report to the government by late June.


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