Thursday, March 10, 2011

On Kuantan Rare-earth: Which drink would you prefer?

According to their reasoning, it is less toxic than the one in Bukit Merah. Common, idiot... toxic is already toxic no matter it is less, diluted, or is still TOXIC! Dumboo! Now, tell me would you choose Drink B?
Any sane person would only choose drink A. But in Malaysia, just because they want to outdo FDI of Selangor, Penang and Kedah (the opposition states), they welcome toxic industries to Malaysia. Want to be the world exporter kononnya. Want to outdo China pula.
We are not worry about the plant, but worry about the enforcement of rules and regulations that always gone disarray....afterall it has always been Malaysia Boleh! Pay and everything is OK!
Try build one at Pekan near Najib's home. Boleh ke?

Aussie miner defends Kuantan rare-earth refinery: Less toxic than Bt Merah

Australian mining company Lynas Corporation moved last night to allay fears that its new refinery in Kuantan may repeat the environmental damage of Malaysia’s last rare earth plant, which is still being cleaned up nearly two decades after it was shut down.

Corporate and business development vice president Matthew James claimed the plant would involve lower levels of radiation than the Bukit Merah facility that has been linked to at least eight cases of leukaemia in the area.

“The key difference from Bukit Merah was that it used amang (tin tailings) that has 50 times the level of thorium of our raw material,” James said, referring to the radioactive element found in virtually all rare earth deposits.

He said the ore from the company’s mine in Mount Weld, Australia, would only contain 1,600 parts per million (ppm) of thorium as opposed to the 80,000 ppm in the amang used in the Bukit Merah plant set up in 1985.

Common signs of acute leukaemia. — WikiCommons The New York Times reported yesterday that the US$230 million plant (RM700 million) refinery will be the first such plant outside China in nearly three decades.

The rest of the world has been wary of the environmental hazards involved in their production, leaving China to control 95 per cent of global supply of rare earth metals.

The metals are crucial to high technology products such as the Apple iPhone, Toyota Prius and Boeing’s smart bombs.

The newspaper said that if prices of the metals stayed at current levels, the Lynas plant would generate over RM5 billion a year in exports for Malaysia, or nearly one per cent of its entire economy.

However, it also reported that Mitsubishi Chemical, which closed down its Bukit Merah factory in 1992 following steady protests by residents over pollution, is now quietly removing radioactive material from the site at a cost of US$100 million.

Nearby residents had blamed the rare earth refiner for birth defects and eight leukaemia cases within five years in a community of 11,000 — after many years with no leukaemia cases. Seven of the leukaemia victims have since died.

James, in the telephone interview, claimed that the factory would only expose its workers to 0.2 millisieverts per year of additional radiation. The normal radiation an average person would experience is 2 millisieverts per year.

He added that no special protective equipment would be required for the workers.

James also insisted that there was no concern over disposal of waste from processing the raw material.

He said that the facility could store six years’ worth of what he called “synthetic mineral product.”

Lynas is planning to reprocess the residuals into industrial products with only one, a cement mixture for road-building, containing thorium, said James.

He claimed that the cement would only contain 500 ppm of the radioactive element, the maximum permitted under international standards to allow the material to be disposed with few restrictions.

He also said the project has been approved by Malaysia’s Atomic Energy Licensing Board, and that reports and studies were presented to the local public.

In the New York Times piece yesterday, Raja Datuk Abdul Aziz Raja Adnan, the director-general of the regulatory board, had said the project was only approved after an inter-agency review.

He said the report indicated that the imported ore and subsequent waste would have low enough levels of radioactivity to be manageable and safe.

“We have learned we shouldn’t give anybody a free hand,” Raja Adnan told the newspaper.

James added that the company chose Malaysia instead of refining the ore in Australia, due to savings in already available infrastructure and labour.

He said that the plant would need a larger supply of water, natural gas, industrial land and chemicals such as lime and sulphuric and hydrochloric acid — all readily available in Malaysia.

“Each container contains about US$1 million of rare earth so the transport cost is negligible,” James said.

James also said that the Kuantan facility, located in the Gebeng industrial area, will be the largest rare earth processing plant in the world once completed next year.

- Malaysian Insider


Rare earth refinery slammed: Surely, we cannot be that desperate for FDI
Written by New Jo-Lyn,
Malaysia Chronicle

When Malaysian authorities quietly granted an Australian firm Lynas the licence to build a rare earth refinery at an industrial center in Gebeng, Kuantan, it revived bad memories of the radioactive contamination that occured in Bukit Merah, Perak some 2 decades ago which was blamed for the deaths of at least 7 people.

It has also spurred enviromentalists and opposition politicians into fierce action.

“The level of awareness regarding this issue is being raised only now, after I had gone to the New York Times who agreed to run the story,” Kuantan MP Fuziah Salleh told Malaysia Chronicle on Thursday.

Bad record of enforcement and integrity

She was also worried about the poor quality of enforcement in Malaysia and the consequences of negligence in managing the radioactive waste.

The US$230 million Pahang refinery will be the first processing plant to be built outside of China in nearly three decades after governments around the world rejected rare earth mining facilities on fears that they might turn into public health hazards.

Lynas’s executive chairman, Nicholas Curtis, had told the New York Times that building and operating a rare earth refinery in Australia would cost four times as much. He also said that Australia could not host the facility as it was home to an environmentally minded and politically powerful Green party.

Later, at a separate interview with a Malaysian news portal, he assured that Lynas would be much "safer" than Bukit Merah.

“The key difference from Bukit Merah was that it used amang (tin tailings) that has 50 times the level of thorium of our raw material,” James said, referring to the radioactive element found in virtually all rare earth deposits.

His remarks immeduately set up the backs of Malaysian enviromentalists, who immediately condemned the move and Prime Minister Najib Razak's administration for taking chances with public safety. They compared the Malaysian government's apathy poorly with stringent Australian standards.

“Why would Lynas, who before this had operated in China, now want to move its operation to Malaysia, instead of processing the material in its own country, Australia?” demanded Fuziah, who is also the vice president of PKR.

Surely, we cannot be that desperate

According to Fuziah, lathanides (the scientific name for rare earth) can produce a low or mid-level grade of radioactive deposit.

She insisted that Malaysia should err on the side of caution even though the Malaysian Atomic Energy Licensing Board had approved the Lynas project after an inter-agency review indicated the radioactive ore at Pahang and its subsequent waste were manageable and safe.

Fuziah urged Najib to remember the debacle of Japanese company Mitsubishi Chemical in Bukit Merah. The firm had failed to dispose of low-level radioactive waste properly, exposing local residents to radioactive properties.

Residents there have suffered high cancer rates, premature and deformed births, and miscarriages. The locality's record surpassed the average nationwide rate.

If a similar leakage occurs at the Pahang refinery, it would pollute the nearby Sg Balok and ultimately the marine life in the South China Sea, Fuziah warned.

Lynas expects its new refinery to meet nearly one-third of the world’s demand for rare earth, which is used to produce goods such as mobile phones, batteries for hybrid and electric cars, wind turbines, and missile guidance systems, within two years of completion.

It also means that Malaysia will have the dubious distinction of being home to the world's largest rare earth processing plant once it is completed.

"We do welcome foreign direct investment, but surely, we cannot be that desperate. Public health and safety are paramount and so is the environment because that is what we will leave behind for our children to inherit," PKR MP for Gopeng Lee Boon Chye told Malaysia Chronicle.


MCLM wants rare earth plant EIA made public
By Melissa Chi

KUALA LUMPUR, March 10 — The Najib administration should make public the environmental impact assessment (EIA) report for a RM700 million rare earth refinery in Kuantan and safeguards to prevent a radioactive disaster, a civil group demanded today.

Malaysian Civil Liberties Movement (MCLM) president Haris Ibrahim said even with assurances from Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, there needs to be a proper study to prove that the refining plant will not leave harmful side effects.

“We want to know why Malaysia is hosting dirty industries belonging to other countries and why the government is allowing the country to be used by foreign companies in such a manner.

“We want to know what safeguard measures are in place to ensure there will be no radioactive disaster,” he said in a statement today.

The Malaysian Insider reported assurances about the refinery safety from the Australian mining company Lynas, which is building the plant near Kuantan, the capital of Najib’s home state Pahang. News of the refinery was first reported by the New York Times yesterday.

“Datuk Seri Najib Razak has given the assurance that there are safeguards in place to ensure that there will not be radioactive leakages from the new Australian-owned rare earth refining plant in Kuantan and that the waste will be disposed of properly.

“However, he fails to realise that radioactive waste poses an enormously difficult problem which to date no country has solved. Even France, the country where at least 80 per cent of its energy is nuclear energy, has problems with waste. This despite the fact that their engineering is a point of national pride,” Haris (picture) pointed out.

He charged that Malaysia has not yet proven itself in the area of radioactive waste management with its only experience being the Asia Rare Earth plant in Bukit Merah in the 1980s.

“During then too the government failed to avert a radioactive disaster involving the rare earth plant in Bukit Merah, Ipoh, despite warnings of danger from the Bukit Merah New Village residents, lawyers and activists.

“There were numerous cases of leukaemia, miscarriages, babies born with deformities and early deaths, and the effects are still felt to this day,” Haris said.

The New York Times report that the Lynas refinery in Kuantan could break China’s chokehold on rare earth metals that are crucial to high technology products such as Apple’s iPhone, the Toyota Prius and Boeing’s smart bombs, said the newspaper.

The Bukit Merah Asian Rare Earth plant near Ipoh was also reported by the New York Times to be still quietly undergoing a US$100 million (RM300 million) cleanup exercise despite shutting down in 1992.

The New York paper also reported that as many as 2,500 workers are rushing to complete the US$230 million plant in Gebeng, near Kuantan, that will refine slightly radioactive ore from Australia.

“The fact that the new refinery will generate RM5 billion a year in exports starting late next year which is equal to nearly one per cent of the entire Malaysian economy may be a tempting prospect. But not when human lives and safety are at stake,” said Haris.

He said the rare earth processing plant requires a lot of water each day — about three Olympic-size swimming pools per day.

“This water along with the waste will be flushed out into the nearby Sungai Balok. About 5km from the proposed plant site is a fishing village — Kampung Balok. The villagers, mainly Malays, supply fish for consumers in Kuala Lumpur, Petaling Jaya, Penang, Johor Baru and Singapore,” he said.

No comments: