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Lynas waste will not be shipped out of Malaysia
The latest gimmick by Lynas to demonstrate that its rare earth ore is safe while it has finally conceded that the radioactive waste cannot be shipped out of Malaysia is just a poor attempt to salvage its tarnished reputation, said the Save Malaysia Stop Lynas campaign yesterday.
SMSL spokesperson Tan Bun Teet said, “It goes to show how desperate Lynas is now – having to convince the market that it will not face further protest and court actions in Malaysia on the one hand and having to deal with the outrage of Malaysians over its massive waste problems on the other.”
Tan is one of the Kuantan residents who have filed judicial reviews cases through the court to revoke the Lynas temporary operating licence (TOL). Both cases have been accepted by the Kuantan High Court and waiting for the hearing to begin. SMSL has also applied through the federal appeal court to reinstate the injunction on the TOL. The hearing for this appeal is scheduled for Dec 19.
SMSL noted that Lynas was once a favourite of the top 100 companies of the Australian Stock Exchange; it is now one of the worst performers. The market has progressively lost patience and confidence in Lynas. Daiwa Capital Markets was the first to sound the warning bell as early as January when it wrote a report based on a field investigation on Lynas.
More recently, Deutche Bank, Forster and UBS have all downgraded their assessment of Lynas. Forster has given the ‘sell’ call on Lynas stock. Deutsche Bank and JP Morgan have warned of possible cash flow problems for Lynas if the plant is further delayed. Lynas shares are trading at an all-time low, closing at just 61 cents on Friday.
SMSL quoted another Kuantan resident Ram Ponusamy who has challenged the government on the TOL as saying: “It is irresponsible for Lynas to try to fool us that rare earth is harmless.” He added that Lynas was only taking advantage of Malaysia’s lax environmental law and poor enforcement standard.
Invoking the now closed Mitsubishi rare earth plant, SMSL drew a lesson from the toxic substances released in Bukit Merah and alleged that “Malaysian environmental law is over 20 years out of date”.
While radioactive materials are known carcinogens, recent research has found exposure to rare earth to have adverse health impacts, said SMSL warning against the tax-exempt Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP).
The anti-Lynas campaign claimed that rare earth exposure has been linked to lower IQ in children and damage to lung, bone and liver – reference here.
SMSL points out that the world’s largest food company Unilever cancelled an entire batch of China tea when it was found to contain an unacceptable high level of rare earth. The China limits set for a wide range of hazardous substances linked to the processing of rare earth can be viewed here.
Lynas is charging ahead with its refinery which once operational will be dumping hazardous waste in Malaysia, said SMSL, contrasting the action with the company’s slogan of “zero harm”.
In its press statement, SMSL highlighted another potential danger posed by Lynas which has plants to recycle the LAMP by-products into commercial products.
“This kind of practice is illegal in many advanced industrialised nations due to the presence of radioactive substances, heavy metals and hazardous chemical compounds in the waste. Commercialising this kind of by-products, if it is at all possible legally, is risky and hazardous as it will spread the hazards further to more people and to more places!” said SMSL.
Another case applicant Ismail Abu Bakar complained that Lynas is trying to fool the ill-informed, adding: “We do not want this kind of company operating in our backyard. We are no fools!”
Tan Bun Teet reiterated the stance of his campaign that the Malaysian government has “failed in its duty of care to regulate Lynas and to protect the rakyat and Malaysia’s natural resources from dangerous hazards and pollution”.
He said that with the support of their many supporters, his movement will fight to shut down the Lynas plant as well as “campaign in every possible way to vote this irresponsible and incompetent government out”.