Malaysia: People's ballot rejects Australian corporate polluter Lynas

Monday, July 16, 2012
Some 99.9% of some 20,000 who voted in a mock referendum opposed the Lynas refinery.

Over the weekend of July 14-15, communities in 30 locations around Malaysia participated in a National Day of Stop Lynas action against a rare earth refinery project being built in Malaysia by the Australian company Lynas. Simultaneous solidarity actions took place in Australia - in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Roxby Downs (at the "Lizard's Revenge" anti-nuclear music festival in the outback arid zone of South Australia).

The ore to be processed in this controversial refinery will be mined in Western Australia and shipped out, through the port of Fremantle, to Malaysia but Australia has refused to take back the toxic and radioactive waste produced in the refinery in the city of Kuantan.

Every year, at least 106 tonnes of radioactive thorium and a small quantity of uranium will be dumped amongst this waste along with an unknown cocktail of other hazardous substances.

According to a July 16 statement by the Save Malaysia Stop Lynas (SMSL) coalition, the Lynas rare earth refinery plant was constructed "without any prior informed consent from local communities and citizens who will be getting the blunt end of the raw deal of permanent pollution risk whilst Lynas will be making a hefty profit tax-free".

"Malaysians will be living under the shadow of radiation contamination for ever from the world’s largest rare earth refinery built and managed by a company with no prior experience dealing with the complexity of rare earth pollution."

To make matters worst, activists say, the refinery is situated in a peat swamp area only 3.5km from the South China Sea, an important seafood and tourism area. There are approximately 700,000 people living within 30 km from the Lynas refinery.

Malysian environmental activists believe that Lynas is building the processing plant in Malaysia, instead of Australia, to cut costs and avoid having to deal with stringent environmental regulations in Australia for containing toxic and radioactive waste.

If the waste is "safe", as the company claims, then it should get sent back to Australia where the mining for the rare earth ore occurred. However, when this option was raised in the WA parliament on April 5, 2011 by the WA Greens MLC Robin Chapple, the WA minister for mines and petroleum Norman Moore firmly rejected the idea.

On March 20, this year, Moore repeated the refusal in the WA parliament and added that "Commonwealth legislation prohibits the importation by Australia of any waste product produced from offshore processing of any mineral resources purchased here."

The Malaysian government has stubbornly to acknowledge and take on board its citizens’ concerns and strong opposition to the Lynas project despite ongoing public protests since the issue became widely known after its opponents organised the biggest-ever environmental protest in Malaysia last February.

With an eye to upcoming general elections in Malaysia, activists organised a mock referendum on the Lynas project over last weekend.

"An overwhelming 99.9% of the 20,000 over people who were eligible to vote opted for the Lynas project to be stopped. For so many people to come out to show their opposition, it is a clear indication that Malaysians are ready to vote wisely at the next election", said Ram, an SMSL activist.

Tan Bun Teet, spokesperson for SMSL said that activists were "greatly encouraged by the strong support we got from other communities throughout the country and from Australia. The weekend results have restored many people’s determination to keep fighting the terrible decision made by the government.”

Malaysia had a bitter experience of an earlier rare earth refinery built in Bukit Merah in the state of Perak by the Japanese corporate giant, Mitsubishi. That plant was forced to close down after a drawn out political and legal battle that lasted a decade. Unfortunately, the local comunity suffered serious health effects over the years before the plant was forced to close in 1992.

"Given the Malaysian government’s mishandling and poor management of the Bukit Merah rare earth plant, it is ludicrous that we now have a plant at least ten times bigger with hundreds more times toxic waste to handle. It is on this basis that we as responsible tax-paying citizens will have to do everything possible to stop this madness."



Action in Kuantan, Malaysia on July 14.


Action in Kuantan, Malaysia on July 14.


Action in Kuantan, Malaysia on July 14.


Action in Johor Baru, Malaysia on July 14.


Solidarity action in Sydney on July 14.


Solidarity action in Sydney on July 14.


Solidarity action in Melbourne on July 14.


Solidarity action in Perth on July 15.

Solidarity action in Roxby Downs, South Australia on July 14.

From GLW issue 930

Comments

Lynas Corporation

It appears we are making some progress. We now have an apology for the slanderous anti Lynas comments that were made by Save Malaysia Stop Lynas. Perhaps due process of Law is the only way to get justice for Lynas Corporation. Keep making more uninformed defamatory statements and you will get your day in court.

Malaysians appeal for Australian support

lynas

As you can see unemployed bums protesting on a subject they know nothing about.
Lets face it for the malaysian people its about money not anything else.

Agents of China

I smell a rat here. Only China will gain from stopping Lynas.
They have tried to gain 51% control of the Company but was rejected
By ASIC Australia. Now they are using agents and self serving
Politicians to do their dirty work? Is it any wonder that certain Chinese
Persons are leading the protest?
Wake up Malaysians. Do we want to return to padi planting and
Fishing or to an advanced economy?

sino phobia greed!

ya mate - keep dreaming your sino-phobic dream and one day the truth shall reveal itself and you'll have your tails tugged in between your legs cos King Lynas will fall like a sack of rotten apples - not because of China or Malaysia BUT because Lynas is so sadly incompetent, inexperienced, so arrogant and live in such strong denial that it will crumble from overspinning....!!! Just yoou wait!

Imperialism and sino-phobia alive and well amongst Lynas trolls

Wake up you nameless greedy selfish fool who dared not show your ID. Your are just but an ignorant troll who thinks that Malaysia has nothing until the Lynas rare earth plant comes to town.

The most immediately affected communities are the rural Malay folks who are largely dependent on the booming coastal tourism and cottage industry for their livelihoods and income. They are doing fine and they do not wish to see Lynas' pollution destroy their future. Stop playing the racial game when you have no idea what nonsence you're posting here!

The problems stems from Lynas' own foolishness in locating a polluting risky project in a peat mangrove area so close to human settlement, fishing ground and tourism hot spot!

Just because Lynas and its investors are greedy it does not mean Malaysians will have to shut up! If it's in your backyard, you'll probably be out there protesting just like the Malaysians unless of course if you're a real morons who is stupid enough to prepare to live next to a toxic dump!

Thanks for supporting anti-Lynas campaign, Australia !

Thanks for supporting the people of Kuantan in our popular struggle against the
Lynas plant, Australia residents !
Your numbers can only grow with public awareness over time.

The people of Kuantan are up in arms against this attempt to use our
community as a permanent dumping ground for toxic and radioactive wastes.

Kai-Lit Phua
(public health professor and outraged Kuantan boy)

Education is the key to understanding

The constant misunderstanding demonstrated by the opososition to this project is truly astounding.
If public awareness does grow over time they will realise that the threat to Malasia does not exist and that the protestors are just misinformed political pawns.

Doing a diservice to the real GREENS

This article is so full of misleading and completely false information it is a reason why many real Greenies have lst faith in the party.
1. These statements are completely untrue.
"but Australia has refused to take back the toxic and radioactive waste produced in the refinery in the city of Kuantan."
2. "Every year, at least 106 tonnes of radioactive thorium and a small quantity of uranium will be dumped amongst this waste along with an unknown cocktail of other hazardous substances."
3. "Malaysians will be living under the shadow of radiation contamination for ever from the world’s largest rare earth refinery."
The level of radiation is less than the normal background radiation that presently exists in Kuantan !
I could go on and on with scientifally and factual statements fomr independant bodies that show the claims in this article are simply false and misleading........do your own research and you will see for yourselves.
Your misbehaviour in publishing this distortion of facts does nothing but discredit the GREENS!

You kidding me? Its almost 40 times higher than background

"The level of radiation is less than the normal background radiation that presently exists in Kuantan !"

Wrong. According to the Radiological Impact Assessment (RIA), the WLP waste is almost 40x higher in radioactivity than background level. Look who's lying?

Malaysia

I would concentrate on Malaysia's shocking regard towards rain forests and deforestation of several Asian countries if i was you rather than this non event.

Anti Lynas Protest

You call this a representative protest in Australia?
Somewhere between 6 and 15 people representing a small but noisy minority
that can't accept that Lynas is a positive development for Malaysia.
It doesn't matter what remedies or compromises Lynas is prepared to make, you
are hell bent on detroying a good Asutralian company.

Find a better cause to save Malaysian lifes - remedy Malaysia's appauling road deaths
which are a real annual occurance and not speculation.

Its Lynas that is destroying Autralian's good reputation

1. NewYorkTimes 29 June 2011 reported construction and design weakness in LAMP. It also reported practices of cutting corners by using unsuitable materials, such as normal steel instead of stainless steel.

2. NewYorkTimes 31 January 2012 reported a key contractor Akzo Nobel pulled out because it is uncomfortable with the rising dampness of the containment tanks. The rising dampness is caused by Lynas cutting corner by not using plastic liner in the concrete foundation.

3. Lynas has not hold any public consultation for LAMP.

4. Instead of going after the NewYorkTimes, Lynas seek a gag order to shut up the activists.

5. Lynas engages in deception by comparing their waste with potassium-40 in bananas and diet salt. Potassium-40 is recognize to be 10 times and 100 times less hazardous by the IAEA and AELB.

your an idiot

The subject line says it all. The reputation of the activists is the only reputation being damaged by churning out the same and ever increasiningly inacurate information and being duped in to being an oposition political pawn. Once again, your an idiot.

hypocrisy

The protests in Australia look very small indeed. One question: do you think the anti-Lynas protesters use mobile phones, watch television, and drive cars etc? Rare earths are used in these products. Are they prepared to give them up? What about then addressing the background radiation we all live with - for example, in bathroom tiles, or in a banana. How many of them smoke cigarettes? Should they not ban the production of tobacco too? Such hypocrisy

From little things, big things grow.....

gee, you simply lack foresight. Haven't you heard Paul Kelly's famous song? Can't you see that the Stop Lynas campaign has grown????? Do you think you can get so many Aussie to stand up in different states and in Malaysia to support an issue all on a voluntary basis like the Malaysians have?

External radiation and consent

1. The residents are not concerned with external radiation from Lynas' waste. Rather, it is the internal radiation that is of concern if particles from these waste are ingested or inhaled. Since the plant is located in a swampy tropical land, which receives huge amount of rain every year, the risk of contamination through flooding or leakage is real. With regards to the usage of product containing rare earth elements, I'm sure you drink milk. Does it make sense to have the cow in your house for you to enjoy milk?

2. Banana again? Haha... Despite its radioactivity, potassium-40 in banana is 10 times less harmless according to IAEA's standard, and 100 times less harmless according to Malaysia's AELB standard.

3. Cigarette kills. But it is the decision or a smoker to kill himself or not. Lynas did not seek consent from the residents to locate their plant in their backyard. Consent was not seek nor given. Rapists do not seek consent either.

how about this?

**If the waste is "safe", as the company claims, then it should get sent back to Australia where the mining for the rare earth ore occurred. However, when option was raised in the WA parliament by the WA Greens, the WA minister for mines and petroleum Norman Moore firmly rejected the idea. **

If Lynas is forced to take back safe waste, Malaysia should also take back all prawn shells from prawns they export and be forced to pay for it. Same logic! They export 6000 tonnes plus worth of praws, and some people are alergic to the shell so it is dangerous products. Malaysia should take back the shells now!

How about you listen to Malaysians in Kuantan

Hahaha... prawn shell = radioactive waste?

WLP waste contains thorium-232 with a half life of 14 billion years. Prawn shell is organic and will just ferment to become fertilizer within a couple of weeks. Are you sure you are mentally sane to compare the two?