Friday, February 3, 2012

Save Malaysia from Rare Earth Plant

Recently, Malaysian government has granted a license to Lynas (Aussie company) to operate a rare earth plant refinery in Kuantan. It will be the biggest processing plant on earth after China. Many countries, including Australia, have banned the rare earth refineries. Australia has the rare earth materials but, in order to prioritize and maintain the green environment and the health of the people, Lynas supplies the rare earth materials to Malaysia. Then, Malaysia has  to process and decompose the plant's waste in Kuantan, Malaysia. At the end of the process, Malaysia exports the final products to Australia again. Who is getting all the benefits? It is obviously that Lynas enjoys the benefits including some attractive incentives from the Malaysian government. Nobody knows the environmental impact towards Kuantan, Malaysia even though Lynas promises to adhere strict regulations in decomposing the waste. So far, Lynas hasn't presented the proposal to handle the waste disposal.

This is a similar case in India where the residents are suffered from health problems from manufacturing asbestos products. Many countries, including Canada, have banned from manufacturing asbestos products. Thus, Canada supplies the minerals to India in order to produce the asbestos products to the world. This documentary, India: Toxic Trade, is compiled by Aljazeera 101 East which can be viewed at the end of this post. Malaysia and India don't practice strict regulations like Australia in protecting the environment. Thus, many corporations are able to escape from the laws by bribing the government and authorities.

Although there have been many protests against Lynas's plan to setup a rare earth refinery in Malaysia but Malaysian government turns blindly against the people without taking into consideration like the impact of the environmental disaster as well as the residents' health crisis like birth defeats. Kuantan is situated in the East Coast of Peninsula Malaysia and has been recognized for its popular tourism industry like, fishing and coral reefs. I can't imagine the consequences and impacts towards Kuantan, Malaysia from the rare earth processing plant. 

This is not the first incident happened in Malaysia. In 1992, Japan's Mitsubishi group was forced to shut down its refinery plant in Perak, Malaysia after a great protest, which claimed birth defects and leukemia among the residents there.

Malaysians protest against Australian rare earths plant 
A Malaysian group representing villagers and civil groups will file a legal challenge to the government's decision to approve a massive rare earths plant by Lynas, the Australian mining company .

The Atomic Energy Licensing Board announced late on Wednesday it would grant Lynas a license to operate the first rare earths plant outside China in years, despite public protests over fears of radioactive pollution.

It said Lynas must submit plans for a permanent disposal facility within 10 months and make a $50mn financial guarantee.

Malaysia hopes the Lynas plant will spur growth. But the project has been the subject of heated protests over health and environmental risks posed by potential leaks of radioactive waste.

(Source: Aljazeera News on 2 Feb 2012)

Malaysia to monitor Aussie rare earths plant

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Malaysian authorities sought Friday to quell protests over its move to approve an Australian mining company's rare earths plant by pledging to appoint an independent monitor to review the project safety and to closely scrutinize its production.

The Atomic Energy Licensing Board on Wednesday granted Lynas Corp. a two-year license to operate the first rare earths plant outside China in years. Malaysia hopes the $230 million plant will spur growth, but it has been the subject of heated protests over health and environmental risks posed by potential leaks of radioactive waste.

The board's director-general, Raja Abdul Aziz Raja Adnan, said an independent panel would be appointed this month to scrutinize plant safety when production begins.

He said the board has the know-how to regulate the project as there are more than 10 other similar mineral processing facilities in the country, mostly in tin mining. Some produce even higher concentrations of radioactive waste than Lynas says it will emit.

"We have the experience to handle this. We are prepared," he told reporters. "It is going to be very controlled production with very close scrutiny and monitoring by the authorities. It is not an open license for them."

The board has told Lynas to submit plans for a permanent disposal facility within 10 months and make a $50 million financial guarantee — or the license might be suspended or revoked.
Opponents, however, are angry that the project was approved without a clear long-term waste management plan. The Stop Lynas Coalition, representing villagers and civil groups, is planning to seek a court order to halt the plant in central Pahang state.

Raja Aziz said it was premature for Lynas to identify a permanent disposal site. He said Lynas has outlined its waste management plan in principle in its application and would need to give full details in 10 months. Lynas must also pay the first installment of $10 million in financial guarantee before the plant is allowed to fire up, he added.

Lynas says its plant is 91 percent completed and plans to start operations in the June quarter. It says the plant has state-of-the-art pollution controls and waste products with low levels of radioactive material could be converted into safe byproducts.

The refinery is expected to meet nearly a third of world demand for rare earths, excluding China. It also may curtail China's stranglehold on the global supply of 17 rare earths essential for making high-tech goods, including flat-screen TVs, mobile phones, hybrid cars and weapons.

Malaysia's last rare earth refinery by Japan's Mitsubishi group, in northern Perak state, was closed in 1992 following protests and claims that it caused birth defects and leukemia among residents. It is one of Asia's largest radioactive waste cleanup sites.

Raja Aziz said an International Atomic Energy Agency team, which helped the government assessed the Lynas project last year, would be invited to review the plant again at a later stage to ensure safety compliance.

The IAEA team last year called for more safety measures including a comprehensive long-term waste management program and a plan to dismantle the plant once it is no longer operating.


India: Toxic Trade
Is India investing in a future health crisis by importing asbestos from Canada?
  Last Modified: 26 Jan 2012 07:39

More than 50 countries have banned asbestos products but India cannot get enough. It imports the mineral from Canada, risking a future health crisis.

Asbestos products have a deadly reputation.
Connect with 101 East
Inhaling asbestos fibres can lead to a slow and painful death.

But in India, asbestos illness is under-diagnosed and mostly unrecognised.

And with the proliferation of factories making asbestos products, India is on the cusp of a devastating health crisis.

Workers have little safety equipment and if they contract a respiratory disease or cancer, few are paid compensation.

However, India cannot get enough of the product and it is a first-world nation that is supplying it.

Canada will not use asbestos itself but it is selling it by the shipload to India.


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