Anti-Lynas group urges Singapore to disallow shipments into port

KUALA LUMPUR, March 9 — Himpunan Hijau 2.0 today urged the Singapore government to disallow the shipment of rare earths materials from Australia via Singapore port en route to the Lynas Advance Materials Plant (LAMP) in Gebeng, Kuantan.

“We want to highlight the fact that these are hazardous materials and we want the Singapore port authorities to take note and not allow shipment from Australia,” Himpunan Hijau 2.0 public relations chief Clement Chin told a press conference today after handing over a memorandum on the impact of LAMP to the Singapore High Commission here.

Himpunan Hijau 2.0 members hold copies of the memorandum which they handed over to the Singapore High Commission in Kuala Lumpur on March 9, 2012.Himpunan Hijau 2.0 members hold copies of the memorandum which they handed over to the Singapore High Commission in Kuala Lumpur on March 9, 2012.Chin said a mother vessel will be shipping containers of ore from Fremantle port in Australia to Singapore port before unloading it into smaller vessels and shipping it to Kuantan port.

“These are hazardous rare earths materials. We wouldn’t know whether there would be any leakages and whether they are prepared to handle any accident at the port,” he said.

He said the Lynas operation in Kuantan was not solely a Malaysian problem, but would also affect the rest of Southeast Asia.

“We share the same South China Sea, and whatever the discharge from Lynas in Kuantan into the sea will be carried by currents and it will go to Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia,” he said.

In recent months, the Australian miner’s rare earths plant has been facing fierce public opposition, with anti-Lynas protesters recently gathering in the thousands at a rally in Kuantan to show their disapproval.

Critics of the refinery want the government to halt its construction and direct the Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) to reverse its decision to grant a temporary operating licence (TOL) to Lynas, which will allow it to embark on a two-year trial run.

They allege that Lynas has failed to give sufficient assurance on how it will handle the low-level radioactive waste that will be produced at the plant.

Putrajaya has been under pressure from anti-Lynas groups to shut down the rare earths project over safety concerns. But the government has stood its ground on the project that was first earmarked for Terengganu.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai has told the Sin Chew Daily that Lynas would have to send the waste produced at Gebeng back to Australia, even though the Western Australian government has said it would not accept any residue from ore mined from Mount Weld in the state.

But critics have charged that Malaysia risks breaching international laws if it ships Lynas Corp’s rare earths waste out of the country.

The Sydney-based company maintains that waste from its rare earths refinery will not be harmful and can be recycled for “commercial applications”.