Anti-Lynas MP likens dumping rare earth waste in mines to killing rape victim

Anti-Lynas demonstrators rally in front of Parliament compound in Kuala Lumpur April 10, 2019. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Anti-Lynas demonstrators rally in front of Parliament compound in Kuala Lumpur April 10, 2019. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 4 — Australian miner Lynas’ proposal to use abandoned mines in Malaysia to store its radioactive rare earth waste is like dealing the killing blow to rape victim, Bentong MP Wong Tack said today.

The environmental activist elected on the back of popular support for his anti-Lynas campaign said disposing rare earth waste in the mines would do irreparable damage to nearby land already made infertile by the mines.

Wong ridiculed the assertion made by Lynas Malaysia’s managing director Datuk Mashal Ahmad that building a permanent disposal facility on an abandoned mine would rehabilitate it, calling it audacious.

“Lynas is now suggesting disused mines to dump their wastes.

“Dumping radioactive waste in abandoned mines is akin to killing a rape victim. Instead of healing the piece of land, we are destroying it forever,” he said in a statement.

Wong also fired at his fellow Pakatan Harapan colleagues in government, accusing them of betraying the people’s trust by reneging on its electoral promise to shut down Lynas in Malaysia.

He said Lynas continues to pile up toxic waste by the day, and that the Cabinet decision to let the Australian firm operate even after it violated its contract repatriate its waste out of the country.

Wong called the move “beyond logic”.

“It is confirmed that Lynas will renege on its own legally binding commitment to ship their waste out of Malaysia.

“And yet the Cabinet has decided, beyond all logic, to allow Lynas another six months to generate more radioactive wastes on our soil,” the DAP lawmaker said.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said on August 1 that the Australian mining firm has been directed to construct a permanent disposal facility (PDF) to treat its water leach purification (WLP) residue.

WLP is created from rare-earths processing at the Lynas refinery in Gebeng, Pahang.

Lynas Corp previously insisted that it won’t be able to export 450,000 tonnes of the WLP residue, a by-product of their refinery operations, by September and offered to build the PDF as a compromise.

Wong stressed the PDF was a requirement which Lynas should have fulfilled six years ago.

He noted that the Atomic Energy Licensing Board told Lynas February 1, 2012 to submit the plan and location of the PDF within 10 months from the date of issuance of their Temporary Operating Licence, failing which its operation in Malaysia will be suspended or revoked.

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