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NUKE POWER OR CALAMITY: Can greedy BN be trusted not to MESS UP?

Posted on July 25, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized |

-Malaysia Chronicle-

Is the MNPC (Malaysia Nuclear Power Corporation) planning to go nuclear to produce power? The MNPC is said to be preparing a Nuclear Power Infrastructure Development Plan by 2013 to deliver Malaysia’s first nuclear power plant by 2021.

It was reported that a pre-feasibility study on nuclear energy for electricity generation was completed in 2010, while construction of two nuclear power plants has been identified. Apparently, the government is expected to finalise plans to build two units of nuclear power plants with a total capacity of 2 Gigawatts by 2014 in spite of the present 40 percent energy reserves the country has.

Purportedly, the government is tacitly pursuing with the idea when a few possible coastal and inland sites were named. The assigned contracts is said to be worth RM21.3bil that would easily escalate to more than RM60 to RM80 billion before the project could be completed.

Quietly opting for nuclear energy

Is the government discreetly opting for nuclear power plants without any due process? Are the people informed or aware of the pros and cons of this nuclear scheme?

Disengaging the stakeholders – the people – the project may land up like what has happened to the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP) – a rare-earth refinery plant located 25 kms from Kuantan, Pahang – now ready to operate despite all the protests against its operation.

Snubbing any consultation with the public, non-governmental organisations and rights groups representing various fields have come together to voice their dissension over the government’s implicit plan to build the nuclear plants.

Many energy experts opine that there is no urgency in embarking on a nuclear energy project when Malaysia enjoys a 40 percent energy reserves. The financial resources made available for the nuclear plant can well be diverted to more research into exploiting many other forms of renewable energy which are environmentally safer.

It appears like the government has not deliberated on the realities of nuclear power economics. How much of taxpayers’ money will be required to make nuclear power economically realistic? Is it wise to invest billions in expensive nuclear energy when investments can be made in alternative renewable energy and energy efficient technologies?

The Lynas debacle has now made citizens more aware of the danger of radioactive wastes. And certainly there are more lasting and terrifying environmental hazards from a nuclear mishap, as what occurred in the Three Mile Island and Chernobyl disasters, and later in March 2011 in Fukushima.

For this reason, a coalition of NGOs (Malaysian Coalition Against Nuclear (MyCAN) are already objecting against the government’s plan to opt for nuclear energy by constructing nuclear power plants in the country.

To comfort and appease public protests

The sitting government may coax the public into thinking that nuclear energy is good for the economy, alright with the environment and the country.

But the people cannot forget the despicable attempt by the government to cover up the 1992 illegal and unacceptable dumping of radioactive thorium near Bukit Merah New Village by Mitsubishi’s Asian Rare Earth company.

Public trust in the government and promoters of nuclear power is actually at its lowest ebb. To shape public perception, in most cases governments and the nuclear industry do not reveal certain vital information on the death-traps, structural plans and operations of these plants.

Sieving and bowdlerising information are common by industrial players. Facts, information and figures are often scripted to comfort and appease public protests. The aggrieved Japanese population, for instance, is well aware of this culture of nuclear cover-ups.

TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) owns and operates the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant in Japan. In 2002, the company’s top management had to resign when the Japanese government discovered that they had covered up the existence of structural damage to reactors. TEPCO admitted that it had been fabricating data about reactor coolant materials.

Fukushima nuclear tragedy

It seems like most governments believe in their own ballyhoo and spin about nuclear energy. Lamentably, the present Malaysian government has not taken the Fukushima nuclear radiation leakage episode as a lesson.

Japan was in a kind of lurch after the man-made nuclear crisis since March 2011. An unprecedented earthquake – 8.9 on the Richter scale – off the north-eastern coast of the Japanese island of Honshu followed by a soaring ten-metre tsunami impaired the Fukushima nuclear plant.

Overheating and explosions caused the plant to release radioactivity into the environment. It will however take scientists months before the real effects of this radioactive on the population could be traced. The radioactive isotopes of greatest concern in a nuclear accident are iodine-131 and caesium-137.

Japan was involved in a nuclear warfare in August 1945 when two atomic bombs were dropped in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The instant and long-term catastrophes inflicted by the radiation – the gruesome effects and after effects – have lived on until today.  350 000 people died of this devastation and more than a million people have been permanently mutated.

Human errors

The chances of a nuclear calamity in Malaysia are not unconceivable. Human errors, a terrorist attack or a plane crash will see multitudinous wreckage to human lives and the environment. Natural disasters are not the only causes of a nuclear mishap.  Human errors too can lead to a nuclear disaster. This has happened before in Chernobyl, Sellafield and Three Mile Island.

Nuclear power plants are usually sited in physically secure environments, determined by geologists. But geological or physical knowledge can be unreliable when it comes to locating hazardous radioactive cauldrons such as what had happened to the Fukushima nuclear plant.

Experts thought the location for this plant was planned safe enough – expecting an earthquake no greater than a magnitude of 7.9 and a tsunami no higher than 6.7 metres if at all they were to happen – until it turned out to be a tragedy.

There are a number of unidentified geological faults on the western margins of the Pacific Rim of Fire and close to earthquake-prone Indonesia and the Philippines that experts could not decipher them accurately.  In fact, damaging earthquakes have been known to originate from cagy faults.

Malaysia has often felt tremors of severe earthquakes happening in the western and northern seas of Sumatera and some parts of the country were once devastated by tsunami. Thus the possibility of a destructive earthquake or tsunami happening in the country in the future cannot be ruled out.

Public safety is not government’s concern

Lynas Plant – an Australian reject – was quietly built 25 Kms from Kuantan Town in the east coast of West Malaysia and this project has now irked the people in Kuantan and nearby areas. And now with the push for nuclear power plants Malaysians in general feel that public safety is not the government’s concern.

Is the government preparing to build nuclear power plants surreptitiously without engaging the public first? Where and how does the government plan to scrap the nuclear wastes that will remain radioactive for thousands of years, when the nuclear industry and even advanced countries have not found a solution to it?

Nuclear power plants produce lethal radioactive waste that will remain radioactive for thousands of years. The half-life of plutonium-239 is 24,000 years and that of uranium-235 is 731 million years.

Even Lynas has yet to find a solution where to dump its radioactive wastes. The thousands of gallons of water used for processing the rare earth daily at the plant would most likely be allowed to seep underground or into nearby streams and rivers.

If truth be told, no country in the world has been able to safely dispose of its radioactive or nuclear waste safely. In most cases they stock or hole these wastes deep underground or shed them into the sea.

It seems like the Malaysian government remains adamant to pursue the nuclear energy trail, despite previous calls by concerned groups to scrap its plans. Any proposal to go ahead with nuclear energy in the country deserves a national debate and a referendum. The sitting government cannot make a unilateral decision just based on reports made by companies with vested interests.

“We are disappointed with the government’s plans to develop nuclear energy despite the significant concerns that have been raised against the option,” said a concerned citizen in Kuantan.

“The civil society groups have joined forces to embark on a public campaign to call on the government to abandon its plans for the construction of nuclear power plants,” said an environmentalist attached to an NGO. “The billions of ringgit invested in nuclear energy could be wisely used to tap renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies,” he added.

The government is still blank

Seemingly, most Malaysians disagree with KeTTHA (Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Water that nuclear is the best option for cheap, reliable and low carbon power. Scientific studies have shown that having nuclear power option would increase carbon dioxide in the air. A nuclear power plant indirectly radiates between 376,000 and 1,300,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.

It is profoundly inconsistent if the government’s decision to opt for nuclear energy is to achieve its declared goal of reducing carbon emissions intensity. Nuclear power releases four to five times more carbon dioxide per unit of energy compared to renewable energy.

The existence of nuclear power plants will therefore only increase the number of cancer patients and multitudes of other terminal, incurable and permanent ailments.

In the case of Lynas, the government is still blank as how to resolve the fundamental issue of handling of radioactive wastes and the disposal of the daily use of millions of gallons of wastewater from the plants. How then is the government going to tackle the handling of nuclear wastes and wastewater from the nuclear reactors?

Never be the concerns in any public relations

The health and safety aspects of radioactive-emitting plants have never been the concerns in any government public relations exercise thus far. The danger of radioactive wastes and the claims of the nuclear industry that nuclear power is both safe and vital are wowed with whimsical rhetoric. The masses though are more well-informed of the industry that is going to deliver a dark message about the environment.

Nuclear fallout and radioactive daubing of the sea and land in due course enter the food chain and the human body that will lead to significant health risks. This will adversely affect the immune system, causes infertility and birth defects, and retards physical and mental growth.

Studies have concluded that nuclear power cannot meet energy needs; that it is disproportionately expensive and that it creates environmental and security threats. New evidence has shown that environmentally safe and sustainable and renewable energy technologies can be developed to meet growing energy needs.

As such, plans by the government for nuclear power should be phased out and a serious pledge made to invest in renewable energy. Instead of investing billions in nuclear power, it would be much more cost-effective to commit Malaysia’s limited resources to research and development of renewable sources of energy such as solar, wind, geothermal and water.

The setting of LynasCorp plants in this country – when Australia denied the company a site on its vast desert land – bypassed local public consultations. Malaysia’s decision on nuclear power should thus come after due process and after public consultations.

No matter what, opting for renewable energy is still the best option for a small country like Malaysia. Besides, the cost of nuclear energy is escalating world over while the costs of renewable energy have been declining. Politicians have short-term interests. Nuclear waste is not a legacy they should bequeath future generations.

From Lynas to nuclear plants is just like emerging from one disaster to fall into a worse one.

Malaysia Chronicle

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No nuclear plant in Penang – Guan Eng

Posted on July 23, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized |

The Malay Mail by A. Sangeetha

DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng hopes the federal government will not built a nuclear power plant in Kedah, one of the seven potential sites said to have been identified for the development.

Although Penang was not one of the potential sites mentioned, Lim said the state has always been clear of its position against nuclear energy.

“If Kedah as a Pakatan Rakyat state decided to allow the proliferation of nuclear power plant, then they deserve to be changed,” Lim said.

To prove his point, Lim said he had written to Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Seri Peter Chin Fah Kui to expressed the objection.

“That is why Penang is not one of the potential sites. We have been against the building of nuclear power plants for a long time,” he said, commenting on Malaysian Coalition Against Nuclear’s (MyCan) statement recently that the federal government had identified seven potential sites for the twin-unit nuclear power plants. The spokeperson Dr Ronald McCoy said the seven sites are located in four states – one in Kedah and two each in Perak, Terengganu and Johor.

“In Penang, we care for the people’s health and the environment. We will never sacrifice these for profits. I am sure Kedah state government will object to it,” he said.

Earlier, Lim said Penang Island Municipal Council (MPPP) spent RM1.1 million to beautify the heritage area in George Town with 52 caricature sculptures depicting the ‘voices of the people’.

“Though the sculptures are black, they add colour to the heritage area. It tells the unique stories of Penang and anyone can understand it regardless of race or age,” he said.

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Penang firm partners China’s JiaCheng in JV to produce renewable energy in Msia

Posted on July 17, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized |

–The Sun– KUALA LUMPUR (July 17, 2012): AT Systematization Bhd, a Penang-based manufacturer and integrator of automated systems, is teaming up with China’s MaoMing JiaCheng Industrial Co Ltd to develop renewable energy in Malaysia.

It will begin with plans by JiaCheng, one of the major players in the renewable energy industry, to expand its production facility by setting up a plant in Malaysia.

JiaCheng chairman Huang Shen said the company would incorporate petrochemical technology such as using ethanol with petroleum to produce renewable energy. Ethanol is 6% cheaper than petrol.

Both companies signed an agreement to seal the deal here today witnessed by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz.

According to a press release made available at the signing, both companies would form a joint venture and explore fund-raising through a foreign listing exercise, possibly on the London Stock Exchange, to build the new production facility in Malaysia.

The statement said Malaysia was a suitable choice for the new production facility due to the availability of high quality raw materials which in turn would hopefully provide better production volume and profit yields.

JiaCheng has a current annual production of 600,000 tonnes of renewable energy, supplying to some of the largest and most established companies in China.

Its products include benzene, solvent oil, blending oil, light fuel oil and DM fuel, while its suppliers and customers are established industry players.

Another benefit of the collaboration is that it would complement the global drive, including the government’s drive for a greener future, in line with the green initiatives that the goverment has implemented.

This includes lifting of the import tax for hybrid cars, which will help Malaysia grow into a globally known key place for renewable energy production.

It will also lead to the advantageous transfer of fresh intellectual property and knowledge to develop a new growth sector.

This will increase Malaysia’s role in being the key player whether in production and research and development in the renewable energy industry, the statement said. – Bernama

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Pengerang’s Rapid development

Posted on June 12, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized |

THE first time I set foot in Pengerang was three years ago when a boat capsized, leading to the drowning of a group of illegal immigrants. I was there to cover the incident.

Pengerang’s Rapid  development

Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar and Datuk Seri Najib Razak (third from left) looking at the model of the Petronas Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development (Rapid) project in Pengerang. Pic by Hairul Anuar Rahim

1 / 1

  I  have always been fascinated by the coastal  constituency, which derived its name from a village in  Kampung Pengerang.

  Surprisingly, there is no Pengerang town.

  The biggest town in Pengerang  is Sungai Rengit, which is famous for seafood and views of large ships at sea.

  It is also unique because it is located in the southeastern tip of Johor.

  Pengerang Member of Parliament Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said once said the area was at the “edge of the world” as it is rather far away and secluded.

  Prior to the opening of the Senai-Desaru Expressway, getting to Pengerang from Johor Baru required one to drive via the Kota Tinggi trunk road, a journey which could easily take two hours.

   But the new expressway has managed to reduce travelling time by about half an hour.

   So it was with great excitement when I heard of the mammoth development project planned for Pengerang under Petronas.

  The project, known as the Petronas Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development (Rapid), is slated for full operations in 2016, and is expected to be bigger than the combined areas of the other Petronas hubs in Kerteh, Malacca and Gebeng in Pahang.

  However, there had also been criticism from certain quarters who tried to stop the project.

  They claim the local community would not be compensated when they are forced to relocate from their homes.

  This was, however, untrue as Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had assured the people of Pengerang that compensation totalling RM4.1 million had already been paid to affected fishermen in the area.

  This was needed as  the fishermen affected by the project, who may need to relocate,  require better equipment in order to continue fishing in the coastal area.

  There are plans to build a new fishermen complex in the area.

  Najib said the Fisheries Department and Fisheries Development Board were identifying new locations for freshwater aquaculture to  enable fishermen to diversify their incomes by taking up aquaculture, and not  rely  solely on fishing.

  The federal government, through the Agriculture and Agro-based Industries Ministry, had also given  allocations to refurbish and repair  fishermen’s homes.

  All such assistance will hopefully make the relocation process a little easier for Pengerang folk.

  However, there may be some fishermen who may have been left out in the compensation exercise.

  If so, Najib said a committee headed by Johor Agriculture and Agro-based Industries Committee chairman Datuk Aziz Kaprawi has been set up to look into the matter.

  The criticism that came against the Pengerang project has also received the attention of the Sultan of Johor.

  Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar had castigated those who opposed the  project,  describing them as “anti-development instigators”.

  The ruler urged Pengerang folk  not to be duped by those who tried to stop the project, which he said would be a catalyst for their better future.

  “I am saddened that there are those who are against development.

  “I have heard that there are opportunists who try to instigate the people of Pengerang to oppose this project and demand reasonable compensation,” said the Sultan.

  He went on to say that the criticism against  the project was uncalled for, as it was designed to improve the lot of the people.

  Even if one did not  share the sultan’s  view,  one only need to take a look around the sleepy, coastal constituency of Pengerang to know that it is in dire need of development.

  Perhaps the Sultan said it best when he pointed out that with the implementation of the project, children of Pengerang folk would not need to leave their  aged parents to find jobs in cities far away.

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Guan Eng felt threatened during anti-Lynas rally

Posted on February 27, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized |

-The Sun-

GEORGE TOWN (Feb 27, 2012): For the first time in four years since taking over as Penang chief minister, Lim Guan Eng admitted he felt “his life was threatened” during a public rally on Sunday.

A rowdy crowd of around 50 people started heckling and hurling racial abuse at Lim when he spoke at the anti-Lynas rally at the Speaker’s Square in Esplanade.

“One of them was less than a metre away from me and his arm was stretched towards me,” he said.

“If this was done to the prime minister, ‘dia sudah habis’ (he would be finished),” Lim told a press conference today.

Sensing trouble, Lim decided to leave the rally but the group then blocked his official car.

The group kicked and spat at the car as Lim was driven away.

Another car belonging to state executive councillor Lydia Ong Kok Fooi was also damaged in the melee.

Lim said some 2,000 people were at the Speaker’s Corner for a rally organised by Suaram Penang in solidarity with the Himpunan Hijau 2.0 gathering in Kuantan to protest the construction of the Lynas rare earth plant.

“It is your right if you want the (Lynas) project, but it is also the right of the others to reject it,” he said, adding that the rowdy group was rude and only came to provoke the anti-Lynas supporters.

On whether any police report or legal action will be taken, Datuk Keramat assemblyman Jagdeep Singh Deo said they would look into the matter first.

“I call on Penang police chief Datuk Wira Ayub Yaakob to personally look into this matter. This is a threat to the Penang chief minister,” he added.

Jagdeep, who is Lim’s legal adviser, said the case should be investigated for attempted assault and criminal intimidation.

Ayub in a statement said the organisers should have informed and discussed with the district police on security precautions to be taken as provided for under the Peaceful Assembly Act 2011.

Ayub said the organiser should have arranged safety measures because of the presence of a VVIP like the Penang chief minister.

“Why only blame the police when something like this happened when (the safety measure) was not mentioned during the planning stage?” he added.

Ayub said in handling gatherings and riots, the police have methods to break the tension, which takes into consideration the safety and lives of innocent people.

“We have made recordings of the incident and will investigate based on the law,” he added.

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Change of government is only way to stop Lynas

Posted on February 8, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized |

–Aliran.com—

Save Malaysia Stop Lynas (SMSL) was outraged and appalled by the announcement of the Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) on 1 February to issue a pre-operational licence to Australia’s Lynas Corporation for its controversial Gebeng rare earth refinery plant.

Tan Bun Teet, the chairperson of SMSL commented: “The approval given by the AELB totally ignored the concerns and comments provided by the public who took the trouble to wade through Lynas’ application. The public has submitted no less than a thousand comments and suggestions to AELB on 26 January. Merely three office working days later, AELB has decided to give Lynas a temporary licence.”

“Has the AELB really understood the risks and hazards of this project? The public review was a total charade, a sham and a false pretence in public consultation. It is just another public relation exercise for the Lynas project.”

Added Mr Tan, “In the AELB media statement, it is clear that NONE of the suggestions and objections raised by the public and independent experts in the field was adequately addressed!”

“The AELB has failed abysmally as a regulator,” Tan said.

“SMSL will not hold back any more but will take all possible actions to Stop Lynas.”

The Lynas rare earth project known as Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (Lamp) is 10 times bigger than the now closed Asian Rare Earth project in Bukit Merah.

Rare earth processing has long been linked to devastating environmental pollution. Lamp will be discharging a huge amount of pollution in all streams – air, water and solids – as disclosed in the two documents by Lynas. Each of the streams contains radioactive particles and a range of unknown hazardous substances yet to be declared by Lynas.

The plant is already posing problems as it is in a flood plain. Contaminated water will be certain to overflow into the surrounding area, into the Balok River and the sea – which will affect the range of marine life.

Worse, it is located in an environmentally sensitive area next to an important mangrove area and the South China Sea. A significant proportion of Malaysian seafood is caught here. Tourism, the other growing industry for Pahang, is based on the pristine coastal ecosystem, which will be hit hard in the shadow of the world’s largest rare earth refinery.

In granting Lynas the licence, the AELB has totally ignored advice and recommendation made by Malaysia’s most qualified professionals – the Malaysian Medical Association and the Pahang Bar Association.

Dr Yu Siew Hong a local general practitioner and an active member of SMSL said, “There is no safe dose of radiation. The health of our people will be put at risk. The AELB has not learned from its mistake at Bukit Merah. The people will be outraged and they will do whatever it takes to stop this toxic project.”

SMSL has been taking a series of civil and fair action. Of the various Stop Lynas groups, SMSL by far has engaged most extensively with the relevant authorities.

The AELB approval is the last straw for SMSL.

“The government has left us no choice but to take legal action and to embark on a nationwide public campaign to vote the government out in the next general election. We want a safe and clean Malaysia for all. We cannot afford to let a government, which does not know its duty of care, bring hazards to our country,” concluded Tan.

SMSL has organised a public event on Saturday, 4 February from 5.00pm till 10.00pm. We call upon all concerned residents of Kuantan and the greater Kuantan to come to Teluk Cempedak beach to make a wish. We pledge with others to change the government to save our homeland. Kuantan is a beautiful town. We do not want to live in the shadow of the pollution of the world’s biggest rare earth refinery.

Let’s make a thousand wishes and each of us shall strive to work towards making our wishes come true! SMSL volunteers will be present to guide you. Prepare your wishes and write them on a long strip of paper or cloth prior to coming to TC and they will help you attach it to the balloon.

Let’s all work towards a better government that will adhere to the principles of democracy i.e. a government by the people, of the people and for the people.

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Lynas claims resin provider switch is a ‘business decision’

Posted on February 3, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized |

-themalaysiainsider.com-

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 3 — Australian miner Lynas Corp has denied reports that a key contractor at its rare earth refinery project in Gebeng, Kuantan withdrew over safety concerns, saying it changed suppliers for the RM2.5 billion venture.

The company has received a pre-operating licence although nearby residents have raised concerns about the project.

“Any claim that AkzoNobel withdrew their resin supply on the grounds of substandard engineering is false,” a spokesman for the Australian miner told The Malaysian Insider.

The New York Times reported on Tuesday that the Dutch chemical company pulled out from the project in the third quarter of last year after it was informed that the fibreglass liners using its resin would be installed in concrete-walled tanks that did not meet safety standards.

AkzoNobel is said to have refused to supply resins as the tanks — which will be used to mix hundreds of tonnes of rare earths with extremely corrosive acids — have problems with rising dampness in the floors and cracks in the walls.

But Lynas said it made a “business decision” to seek another supplier for the lining for its concrete leaching tanks as AkzoNobel only manufactured the resin but did not apply it or certify the work.

The miner pointed out that AkzoNobel’s replacement, Trepax Thailand, appointed last year, has over 20 years’ experience in the petrochemicals industry across Asia and provided integrated services, including certification.

“The new contractor is applying a vinylester resin to meet international industry standard Derakane 411 from the worldwide leader in vinylester resins (Dow Chemicals),” Lynas said.

The Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) granted a temporary operating licence (TOL) to Lynas last Friday after almost a year of sustained public protests.

The regulator said it decided on Monday to approve the Australian mining giant’s application despite receiving 1,123 comments on Lynas’ documents during the public feedback period, which ended last Thursday.

AELB’s decision will finally allow Lynas to fire up its controversial refinery, which has raised fears of radiation pollution among residents of the east coast city and environmentalists.

The plant will be monitored for the next two years during which Lynas must meet safety requirements before AELB issues a full licence to ramp up operations.

Lynas said last week it expects the start of operations to be delayed to the second quarter from the first quarter of this year.

Plans to start operations in September last year were scuppered when Putrajaya bowed to public pressure last April and put the project on ice pending a review by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

In July last year, the AELB adopted 11 recommendations set out by the review of the refinery and said it would not allow Lynas to begin operations or import rare earth ore until all conditions, which include a comprehensive, long-term and detailed plan for managing radioactive waste, were met.

Lynas Corp failed to meet any of the conditions in its first proposals, according to the regulator.

Lynas’ local subsidiary has insisted it can begin operations within six weeks of being given the go-ahead for the plant, which will produce rare earth that is crucial in the manufacture of high-technology products such as wind turbines, hybrid cars and smartphones

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Wait for safer plan for Lynas plant, groups urge Government

Posted on January 27, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized |

-The Star-

KUANTAN: The authorities have been urged to wait until a safer plan is implemented for the planned construction of a plant by Lynas Malaysia Sdn Bhd.

Four groups protesting the plant here said Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry and Atomic Energy Licensing Board should reject the plant’s pre-operational licence application.

Save Malaysia Stop Lynas chairman Tan Bun Teet said they were disappointed by the weak presentation put up by the company and claimed the proposed waste management plant was unsafe.

Stop Lynas Coalition chairman Andansura Rabu said the proposed plant would result in hazardous and radioactive substances being scattered into the air.

“The Government must enforce its own law to make sure Lynas carries out a detailed environmental impact assessment,” he said.

Pahang Bar Committee chairman Hon Kai Ping pointed out that the location of the permanent disposal facility had not been identified.

“The current location of the residue storage facility built within the plant was unsuitable.

“The land is reclaimed swamp land and is just few kilometres away from the sea,” he added.

Malaysian Medical Association representative Dr Yu Siew Hong said there was no safe dosage of radiation emitted from such a plant.

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Locals say market won’t buy Lynas’ recycled waste

Posted on January 26, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized |

The Malaysian Insider
By Shannon Teoh
January 26, 2012

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 26 — Lynas Corp’s plans to recycle waste from its controversial RM2.5 billion rare earth plant in Kuantan into a commercial product will not be accepted by the market, local residents opposed to the refinery said today.

The Stop Lynas Coalition (SLC) and Save Malaysia Stop Lynas (SMSL) groups said in a joint submission to the government that the synthetic gypsum the Australian miner hopes to produces from its waste is the subject of an international safety campaign due to radiation fears.

File photo of the site of the Lynas plant in Gebeng, Kuantan.

“The use of phospho-gypsum plaster-board and plaster cement in buildings as a substitute for natural gypsum may constitute an additional source of radiation exposure to both workers and members of the public,” the document quoted from Internet-based environmental organisation Zero Waste America.“The American Gypsum Association does not accept gypsum made with contaminated materials. Contaminated gypsum in the USA has resulted in a class action against the supplier and the importers,” the groups said.

The two residents groups presented the document today after the end of the public viewing and feedback period for Lynas’ long-term waste management plan that must be approved by regulators before it begins operations.

Local residents and environmentalists have criticised Lynas Corp for not having a long-term waste management plan and claimed the company would store radioactive waste onsite, which is about 2km from the nearest residential area.

But Lynas has said a permanent depository facility (PDF) for radioactive waste from its controversial rare earth plant will only be needed in a “worst-case scenario” where it is unable to reprocess its waste into commercial products.

According to Lynas, refining rare earth ore from Mount Weld, West Australia will result in three forms of residue, two of which have a radiation level of below 1 Becquerel per gramme (Bq/g) which is considered non-radioactive and outside of regulatory control by both international and local authorities.

It plans to recycle these two wastes into synthetic gypsum and fertiliser although the process has not been finalised.

However, its water leach purification (WLP) residue is projected to have a radiation level of 6 Bq/g, regarded as “very low-level” radioactive waste.

But Lynas, which received an additional funding boost of RM700 million this week through the sale of bonds, says it is “very confident” it can dilute the WLP to below 1 Bq/g to be used as a base in road building.

The anti-Lynas groups also questioned today whether the market “can fully absorb the colossal amount produced given that Lynas will be producing at least 300,000 tonnes of contaminated waste every year.”

Putrajaya bowed to public pressure in April after sustained opposition from local residents and environmentalists due to fears of radiation pollution and put the project on ice pending a review by international experts.

In July, the government agency adopted 11 recommendations set out by the review and said it would not allow Lynas to begin operations or import rare earth ore until all conditions, which include a comprehensive, long-term and detailed plan for managing radioactive waste, are met.

According to Lynas, regulators Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) will meet on January 30 to decide on whether to issue a pre-operating licence which will be followed by a full licence within two years if the plant meets safety requirements outlined in its application.

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

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Sabah water supply polluted, says academician

Posted on December 5, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized |

-Bornoe Post Online-

KOTA KINABALU: Malaysians are very lucky to be blessed with the abundance of water within their midst.

They are lucky because water comes from within the country’s border, hence no one can control its supply, said academician Mark K. Brindal during his visit to the Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) to give a talk on the Australian experience on water issues recently.

Brindal, who is attached to the Environment Institute for the University of Adelaide and is also South Australia’s ex-minister of water resources, said however that having an abundance of water flowing along our rivers does not necessarily translate to having enough water to cater for the nation.

There are two reasons why water scarcity occurs. One is due to the lack of it, and the other is due to having low and even bad quality water supply due to pollution. And what is happening in Malaysia, and in Sabah, generally, is the latter.

“The problem with most Asian region and also in Malaysia, I think, is the quality problem. You put sewerage in your water.”

The direct dumping of sewerage, toxic and other waste direct into water bodies must be stopped. Such actions will cause further contamination of its rivers, he said.

“(And) If we destroy the river, we destroy ourselves,” he said.

He cited that India is facing a similar problem with its Ganges River.

The Ganges, he said, is a sacred river, but the way it has been managed is killing the river.

“The Ganges river is one of the world’s most polluted rivers.”

Brindal went further to explain the results of drinking water from apolluted source: “Half the people in the world’s hospital beds today are occupied by people suffering from water borne diseases. Water borne diseases are the biggest common diseases of humans today and the single biggest cause of child mortality.”

“A lot of people have that problem in Asia. It is not because there is not enough water. It is a problem of not having clean water. It is not a problem of water quantity but of water quality.”

He added that in more developed countries like Australia, water borne diseases are not a problem.

“Our problem is different: Ours is a dry country, and in summer, our rivers are dry. Our government controls the water. You cannot take water unless you have permission and have the license to do so. You can take for human and animal consumption, but not for crops. In Australia, you can own water the same way you can own land, so what we have is the private ownership for water,” he said.

The practice, he said, has made some people very wealthy. Yet the biggest lesson from the whole experience would be this: “Before, you didn’t care whether you use water efficiently or not. Now, water is an input. By selling water, you can maximise profit. Because water having value, you get people to utilize it better and this was very important during the drought. In the drought, our rice farm cannot grow rice

because there is not enough water, so what the rice planters did was to sell the water they had to those planting grapevines and fruit trees and got loads of money from it. And they were able to survive the drought. That was what’s right about the system.”

In the context of Malaysia, where the issue relevant to water supply is connected to issues of water contamination, the underlying solution might be for the Malaysian policy maker to create property rights, not with water, but with land.

“The thing about rights issue is that you can put property

responsibility with the land.”

He explained that in this case, farmers who own lands, could be given, either through legislation or incentives to actually deal with the pollution on their own farm and not allow their ‘pollutants’ to leak into rivers and other water body during heavy rainfall and so on.

“That way, the nation can get clean rivers without any cost to the government.”

Nevertheless, he cited that it would still be difficult (for government) to deal with non-point source like farms that can stretch for hundreds of miles.

On the Kinabatangan River pollution issue, what Brindal suggested was for the Sabah government to work with UMS and to use the unversity’s resources.

UMS has just established its own water research unit and according to Brindal, the unit is well positioned to address water pollution in Sabah as the people heading it are those who understand the chemistry of water and have the expertise.

“Even though it’s just starting, they got the right people to start fixing the biggest problem straight away.”

He also suggested for the government to use the service of the

university to approach those involved in farming oil palms, in

particular the smallholders, to find and adopt better farming methods and education.

“They may not be formally educated, but most of them are clever and have great wisdom in their land and in the way they use their land. They are not unintelligent … so I am advocating that the government use the service of university, which is a community resource, and reach out to the people. The government would need to fund these activities.”

With education and better awareness, changes in attitude will usually occur within five years, he said.

“In 10 years, you will start seeing measureable result, and within 20 years, you will be able to transform a river,” he said.

He added that some people might think the 20 years period is too long.

He argues, “Twenty years is less than one generation. We have taken maybe 60 years to wreck a river, and if we take 20 years to fix it, I think that is reasonable. Unfortunately, everyone in this modern world wants everything fixed within two minutes. The problem with environment is you can’t fix it in two minutes. It took us years to muck it up, and if we take 20 years to fix it, we probably have done it very quic
Read more: http://www.theborneopost.com/2011/12/05/sabah-water-supply-polluted-says-academician/#ixzz1ffhFHGwK

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