Posts Tagged ‘Stop Lynas


Problems at Lynas factory can cause radioactive leaks, say experts

Prevailing problems in waste management, storage, disposal facility and waste cleaning at the Lynas factory can lead to radioactive leakages if the Australian firm fails to address the issues, said experts t at a seminar in Kuala Lumpur today.

The mining company’s refinery near Kuantan, Pahang, has several problems, which experts said in the event of an accident or carelessness, could harm to residents near the factory.

“The factory has limited storage capacity and the waste is stored in a poor liner system,” said Dr Gerhard Schmidt, a chemist from the Oeko Institute in Germany.

Schmidt explained that the institute’s report on the refinery published earlier this year showed that Lynas is using single layer high density polyethylene (HDPE) lining to hold the water leach purification, the by-products of mining industries, in storage.

Meanwhile, its report stated that the “state of the art design would use 2.5mm HDPE and at least two 25cm layers of clay”. The factory was found to use 1mm HDPE and a single 30cm layer of clay.

“One layer isn’t sufficient since these sheets have to be welded on the spot and if its thickness is insufficient or if the sheet was not welded properly, leaks can occur,” Schmidt said in the event hosted by Pertubuhan Solidariti Hijau Kuantan (PSHK), an NGO protesting the factory’s operations.

“I thought after publishing the report Lynas had addressed the four recommendations proposed by the institute but it turned out to be otherwise,” he added.

Concerns about Lynas’s disposal of radioactive materials began in 2011 after residents feared that its refinery plant in Gebeng would affect some 700,000 people living within less than a 30km radius of the facility.

According to earlier reports, the Gebeng refinery known as Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP) produces a by-product known as Thorium (Th), a radioactive element that causes cancer and is easily transported through wind and water.

Worried over the danger of leakages, environmental lawyer Theivanai Amarthalingam said that the scientist’s concern should be given due diligence before an accident occurs.

“There’s no guarantee that a storage facility can be kept safe for a hundred or a thousand years,” she said.

Problems at Lynas factory can cause radioactive leaks, say experts
November 24, 2013 – TMI


Anti-Lynas group enters politics to bring down BN in Pahang

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 30 — Environmental group Himpunan Hijau today said it will campaign against the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition in Pahang in its bid to stop Lynas from operating its controversial rare-earth plant in the state.

“Himpunan Hijau from today onwards is entering politics,” the group’s chairman Wong Tack (picture) told a press conference today.

At the launch of the group’s “Pahang Green Corridor” campaign today, Himpunan Hijau said it will campaign for federal opposition Pakatan Rakyat (PR) and will focus on six out of eight parliamentary constituencies and 14 out of 22 state constituencies in Pahang.

“Our job now…is to make sure our team will be down to the kampung (village) and visit every single family and reach every quarter of society,” Wong Tack said, adding that the group will set up committees called Angkatan Mat Kilau to give ceramah (talks) and spread information among those in the rural areas.

When asked what is the assurance that PR will stop the Lynas project if it wrests control of Pahang, Wong said the group has given up hope on the ruling BN coalition.

“We have verbal assurance from the Pakatan Rakyat that if they are in power, they will close down Lynas…so we take this promise seriously,” Wong said.

Anti-Lynas group enters politics to bring down BN in Pahang
By Ida Lim
January 30, 2013 – TMI


One investment Malaysia did not need

COMMENT Whoever assessed the criteria for giving Lynas Corp of Australia a licence to operate a rare earths processing plant at Gebeng near Kuantan did the area and the country a great disservice.

That decision calls into question our processes for determining and evaluating foreign investment options and requires that we make a complete overhaul here. That will require a proper assessment of the economic and other benefits weighed against potential detrimental effects from the investments in a systematic, informed and transparent manner.

The so-called Lynas Advanced Materials Plant has already been granted a temporary operating licence on Sept 5 last year to begin operations after phase 1 of the project was completed. Phase 2 is now being undertaken which will double capacity to 22,000 tonnes of rare earth materials.

Residents close to the area where the plant is located attempted to get a court order to stop production but it was turned down. Recently, a controversy emerged when some ministers said that radioactive waste from the plant must be exported while Lynas itself denied that there was any such condition and maintains that its waste is not only safe but can be processed into useful by-products.

Now with Phase 1 already completed with an investment of over RM1 billion and the next phase being constructed, which will take total investment up to RM2.5 billion, one can only expect that Lynas will fight tooth and nail against any attempt to stop production, especially since they appear to have received all approvals.

An anti Lynas activist displays a placard during a Green Gathering 2.0 in Kuantan 2If efforts to stop production by residents and others are successful, one can expect that the government will have to pay a huge amount in compensation to Lynas which may well be much more than the original cost of investment of RM2.5 billion.

Unless Lynas obtained the approval by improper means and this can be proved in court, it looks like the only thing that the government can legitimately do, without having to pay compensation, is to enforce the conditions under which Lynas operates its plants.

But even here it is not clear what the conditions are and whether waste is supposed to be exported.

Capital-intensive operation

That is a rather bad and sad place to be in and if only the proposed investment had been properly evaluated and assessed in the first place, the current dilemma would not have arisen.

First, the arrangement itself was cumbersome. Raw material is imported from Australia and then processed into rare earth materials with the waste material forever producing some radioactive emission. Proponents claim the emission is negligible, opponents maintain otherwise.

But it should be clear that any such arrangement would be fraught with safety considerations and controversy when the plant was not built next to the Australian mining facility already owned by Lynas. Was the investment so necessary for Malaysia that it could pretty much ignore some of these considerations and the controversy it was likely to generate?

According to Lynas, foreign direct investment amounts to RM2.5 billion for the project, operating expenditure per year is RM600 million, export revenue is RM3 billion per year and some 360 jobs will be created.

But of the RM2.5 billion in capital investment, the greatest portion is likely to be sourced from overseas for the plant, with the local portion being largely civil works. Thus the part that is likely to benefit the domestic economy will be a lot less than RM2.5 billion.

One investment Malaysia did not need
P Gunasegaram
Jan 3, 2013 – Malaysiakini


German expert: Lynas’ waste recycling plan ‘nonsense’

Lynas’ plan to recycle the wastes from its rare earths refining processes is “nonsense” and not feasible, according a researcher from the Germany-based think tank Oeko Institute.

The institute’s senior researcher and engineer Gerhard Schmidt said that even if the Lynas Advanced Material Plant (Lamp) dilutes its water leach purification (WLP) waste stream down to one part per hundred, its resulting radiation is still far above limits that are considered “beyond regulatory concern” (BRC, a radiation standard).

“Any hopes that any waste might be reused is scientifically and technically nonsense, and should not be followed anymore,” he said during a teleconference from Darmstadt, Germany today.

He was speaking at the launch of his 114-page scientific evaluation report on Lamp in Kuala Lumpur today, funded by the NGO Save Malaysia Stop Lynas (SMSL).

Schmidt (top photo, on screen) explained that Lynas’ planned dilution ratio of the wastes is unrealistic because it involves handling and careful mixing of vast amounts of material, over 120 million tonnes per year.

In his report, Schmidt also noted that to bring radiation within BRC limits, an even higher dilution ratio of one part per 500 is required.

BRC is defined as 10 microSieverts of radiation exposure per year, which he said is enough to raise cancer risks by one case per million persons.

As such, the WLP waste stream should not be released into the public. A permanent enclosure in a waste disposal facility is the only viable option, the radioactive waste management expert said.

WLP is one of Lamp’s three waste streams and has the highest concentration of radioactive materials and other toxins.

The other two waste streams are known as flue gas desulfurisation (FGD) and neutralisation underflow residue (NUF).

Malaysiakini has already contacted Lynas Corporation for comment on the report and is awaiting its response.

German expert: Lynas’ waste recycling plan ‘nonsense’
Jan 26, 2013 – Malaysiakini


Best of the Green Walk

Best of Green Walk
Winner of Greenwalk photo contest winner:
Tan Boo Keat


Radiologist sows doubt over Lynas recycling plan

Despite repeated boasts by Lynas that wastes from its rare earths refinery in Gebeng, Pahang, can be recycled into commercially safe products, an Australian nuclear radiologist cautions that such technology has yet to be proven successful.

Peter Karamoskas (left), a nuclear radiologist for 13 years and represents the Australian public on the Radiation Safety Committee of Australia, expressed his reservations on the Lynas recycling plan to New Matilda, an Australian news website.

The New Matilda report quotes Karamoskas as saying that the one million cubic-metres of Water Leach Purification (WLP) residue – the most critical waste produced by the refinery -generated within 10 years of operation, have to be mixed with five times the amount of aggregate to reduce its radioactive reading from 6Bq to 1Bq, the threshold for safe waste.

While he said that a similar process had been used in the Netherlands, the wastes produced there were far less radioactive, at close to 1Bq.

Karamoskas, who specialises in the health effects of radiation, pointed out that this method has never been used with materials with a WLP reading of 6Bq, and it is extremely unlikely to be a long-term solution from a safety or economic point of view.

“If this was all ready to go, they would be trumpeting it in the public arena… already it looks slippery. If this was possible, wouldn’t most countries around the world be doing it?” he is quoted as saying in the article.

The article is the second part of a special report on Lynas by Wendy Bacon, a professor and award-winning investigative journalist who sits on the board of the Pacific Media Centre, which is part of the School of Communication Studies at AUT University in Auckland, New Zealand.

Bacon also cites a report prepared for Lynas by technical consultant Worley Parsons, which notes that the by-product production requires time and investment.

Even if recycling options work, Bacon said, Lynas would still be accountable for all dangerous wastes, which under a new Australian law for the disposal of radioactive wastes cannot be imported back into Australia.

Radiologist sows doubt over Lynas recycling plan
Dec 20, 2012 – Malaysiakini


Lynas’ waste plans a toxic pipe dream

DEC 20 — Australian rare earth company Lynas has always known it had a waste problem. It plans to process rare earth concentrate, imported from its mine at Mount Weld in Western Australia, at its Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP) in Malaysia. It will not only produce rare earths for export but also a huge amount of waste, including more than a million cubic metres of low level radioactive material.

Lynas was originally going to build its LAMP plant in China, which produces more than 90 per cent of global rare earths. But according to its 2007 annual report, it decided to move to Malaysia, because the Chinese government was increasing its control over production, including applying environmental standards more strictly. Lax regulation had led to what a Chinese government white paper described this year as extensive emissions of radioactive residues and heavy metals, clogged rivers, environmental pollution emergencies and accidents causing “great damage to people’s safety and health and the ecological environment”.

Lynas was attracted to Malaysia because it was offered tax-free status for 10 years. Its first choice was a site in Terengganu where it quickly received necessary construction approvals. Then the Malaysian government asked Lynas to move south to the Gebeng industrial estate which was built on a reclaimed swamp, 2.5km from the port of Kuantan in Pahang. Although the new land cost US$30 million (RM93 million) rather than US$5 million, the company reported that it “had little choice but to accept this”, and in any case the infrastructure at the new site was better as it was close to petrochemical plants. For its co-operation, Lynas’ tax holiday, which included all imports and dividends, was topped up to 12 years. The company told the share market that it would start producing rare earths by June 2009.

New environmental approval documents were filed in January 2008. It took only five weeks for the state and local council environment departments and the Malaysian Atomic Energy Licensing Board to give the company a construction licence. It is clear from the documentation that at this stage the company had only temporary plans for waste storage, had not addressed the possibility that future events including flooding could affect the safety of the site, or selected a permanent waste facility. Despite the delays, shareholders were told that production would still start in 2009. As 2012 ends, the plant — which will take months to become fully operational — received its first rare earth concentrate several weeks ago.

There is an emphasis in the company’s glossy investor presentations and annual reports of the sustainability of its products, which are necessary for the operation of almost all electronics — from smart phones to missiles. However, there was little mention of the waste — or “residue”, as Lynas prefers to call it.

Lynas and its supporters assert its operations are completely safe, but as New Matilda reported, others — including scientists — are less confident. Lynas relies on an IAEA report that found it had complied with international standards in its construction phase, but needed to do more prior to operating. Lynas told New Matilda that since the IAEA report, it has taken the “additional safety step” of placing “hydrated residues in safe, reliably engineered, elevated storage cells that are designed so that there is no possibility for any leakage of material into the environment”. These storage cells will be monitored by Lynas and the Malaysian Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB).

The IAEA also recommended that Lynas proceed no further until it had filed comprehensive plans for the permanent disposal of waste, decommissioning of the plant and remediation of the site at the end of its life. The AELB and Lynas issued a joint statement mid-way through last year stating that this work would be done before any rare earths could be imported. But then, earlier this year, the AELB jumped the gun by granting a temporary operating licence which gave the company 10 months to come up with these plans. This temporary operating licence was then delayed as a result of court action until November.

Lynas’ waste plans a toxic pipe dream — Wendy Bacon
December 20, 2012 – TMI

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All that is necessary
for the triumph of evil
is for good men
to do nothing.

- Edmund Burke
When the people
fears their government,
there is TYRANNY;
when the government
fears the people,
there is LIBERTY.

- Thomas Jefferson
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