Malaysia: Resident groups furious after Lynas granted temporary operation licence

Residents' rights activists at media conference after Lynas was granted the temporary operating licence.

Press statement of Save Malaysia Stop Lynas
September 6th, 2012

Save Malaysia Stop Lynas (SMSL) is outraged that despite two impending judicial reviews at the Kuantan high court and an appeal case for judicial review in Putrajaya, the Malaysian government proceeded to issue the Temporary Operating Licence (TOL) to Lynas yesterday.

Mr Tan Bun Teet speaking on behalf of SMSL and angry local residents in Kuantan:

"We are appalled by the government’s action. The government has lost the very last little bit of credibility left and may have acted in contempt of the court as a result."

The Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) claimed in its press statement on its decision to issue the TOL that Lynas has fulfilled all of the technical and additional conditions set by the government and that Lynas will remove the radioactive waste from Malaysia. However, no detail was provided on how Lynas has fulfilled these.

"Show us exactly how Lynas will remove its radioactive waste from Malaysia! How can the AELB expect us to accept this weak proposition when we know for a fact that Lynas has NO way of shipping its radioactive waste OUT of Malaysia legally?" asked Ram Ponusamy, a local resident who is concerned that the Lynas plant will ruin all that is nice about Kuantan.

The Western Australian government has clarified several times in the state's parliament that it will not allow Lynas' waste to be returned to the state.

Trans-boundary transportation of hazardous waste is controlled by the Basel Convention. It will be near impossible for Lynas to find a country willing to accept millions of tonnes of its waste and, besides, it will cost Lynas a lot of money if it tries to do that.

Haji Ismail Abu Bakar, a local resident who took the government to court over the TOL, expressed his strong objection to the Lynas project: "Rare earth processing is highly toxic and polluting. Even if miraculously Lynas managed to find a safe and acceptable solution for its solid radioactive waste, what about our air? What about our water?

“Who would choose to live near a world-scale rare earth refinery?"

Residents and concerned citizens could not accept that the government has bent over backwards to pave the way for a foreign firm that pays no tax to jeopardise an otherwise clean, beautiful and peaceful area with immense potential for tourism and a range of other businesses for local communities.

"We are now witnessing a government doing everything to ruin our future when its duty of care should be to prioritise citizens’ health, our investment and our environment. The government has just sent a strong negative signal to the voters yesterday," Ram added.

The AELB has failed to manage the radioactive waste from the previous rare earth plant. AELB said ARE was safe then and it has left unknown amount of dangerously radioactive waste left unmanaged even till today. Now, the government has just repeated the same mistake.

"Lynas may think that with the TOL, it can do whatever it wants. We would like to assure concerned Malaysians that we will do whatever it takes to Stop Lynas – here in Malaysia, in Australia and in every corner of the world where Lynas hopes to conduct its business. This is an undertaking from SMSL," concluded Mr Tan.

For further comments, please contact:

  • Mr Tan Bun Teet, spokesperson for SMSL +60 17 973 0576
  • Haji Ismail Abu Bakar +60 19 953 0921
  • Mr Ram Punusamy +60 179708423
  • SMSL Hotline +60 129823302