KUALA LUMPUR, Sep 3 — Bentong MP Wong Tack has condemned Putrajaya’s decision to extend Lynas Malaysia Sdn Bhd’s operating license by six months.
In a statement, Wong said there are too many unanswered questions for the government to continue to allow the Australian rare earth mining company to operate in Pahang and build its Permanent Disposal Facility for its Water Leached Purification (WLP) residue in the state.
Wong questioned the size of the land the government is giving Lynas to build the PDF, and whether it is safe enough to store the radioactive waste without leaking.
The DAP lawmaker also demanded the government state how much Lynas was being charged for the upkeep of the PDF as well as the land it will be built on.
“So, how big a piece of land are we planning to offer Lynas? At what price is Lynas going to buy the land from us? Are they going to pay our children every 99 years until the end of time? Who is going to pay for the monitoring, management and maintenance of the dump for billions of years?
“Our country has already lost 100 hectares of land to bury Japan Mitsubishi’s joint-venture Asian Rare Earth (ARE) radioactive waste near Bukit Merah. Lynas’ 600,000 tonnes of radioactive wastes currently piled-up in their flood-prone backyard is already more than 50 times the lifetime amount generated by ARE,” said Wong.
Wong alleged that recently there have been reports of cracks emerging from the ARE’s disposal facility of which construction was only completed a few years ago, and asked the government the extent of the damage so far.
He questioned the government’s use of the term “permanent”.
“How do you define ‘permanent’? 100 years? 300 years? Bear in mind that the cancer-causing Thorium in Lynas’ radioactive wastes has a half life of 14 billion years. Therefore, the only things that are permanent here are permanent health, permanent financial and permanent psychological burdens.
“The government should not mislead the people. “Temporary” Disposal Facility is a more appropriate term to use,” he added.
Wong said the decision to allow the PDF to be built will continue to burden future generations of Malaysian’s with anxieties about cracking, leaking, cost of repair with regards to the PDF which may eventually be built on their lands.
“Across my constituency of Bentong, from Bilut to Pelangai, there are many poor, honest and hardworking farmers who have been applying for small plots of land, an acre or two, but until today, they remained living in anxiety, not knowing whether they will one day get chased off from their lands.
“The Orang Asli communities as we all know, are suffering the same fate, brutally denied of their ancestral lands. Yet, the leadership of this country have no qualms to offer a foreign corporate colonizer huge pieces of land for billions of years to dump toxic radioactive wastes,” he added.
“The Cabinet’s decision to extend Lynas’ operating licence is wrong. It has to be urgently reviewed.”
On August 19, Pahang Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Wan Rosdy Wan Ismail said the state government never discussed with Lynas pertaining to PDF, as one of the conditions following the Cabinet decision to renew Lynas’ licence for another six months effective September 3.
The Department of Environment (DoE) has approved the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report for Lynas to build a landfill to store its neutralisation underflow (NUF) residue providing it fulfills 68 conditions.
Compared to WLP, NUF is a non-radioactive waste.
*Note: A previous edition of the story contained an error which has since been corrected.