Malaysia

Anti-Lynas group vows ‘wave after wave’ of protests

People protest outside the Lynas refinery in Gebeng. Himpunan Hijau today vowed to keep up protests against the RM2.5 billion project. — Reuters picPeople protest outside the Lynas refinery in Gebeng. Himpunan Hijau today vowed to keep up protests against the RM2.5 billion project. — Reuters picKUALA LUMPUR, June 21 — Himpunan Hijau warned Lynas Corp and the government today of “wave after wave” of protests against the impending issuance of a temporary operating licence (TOL) for the Australian miner’s rare earth plant, beginning with a day-long assembly this weekend.

The coalition of groups opposed to the controversial refinery in Kuantan told a press conference today that it will not stop until the plant is forced out.

“Leaders of the current regime will not pay attention to the suffering and anxieties of the community of Kuantan. They are in the midst of their own political life and death struggle. Correcting their wrongdoings is not on their agenda.

“If the TOL is issued, the authorities will see wave after wave of people’s actions,” chairman Wong Tack said.

He also said the RM2.5 billion project will be “the world’s largest radioactive waste dump” despite the Sydney-based firm’s insistence that radiation would be at very low levels as “it will break down and alpha particles will release very strong radiation into the food chain.”

Lynas cleared probably its final major hurdle to getting its TOL after a parliamentary select committee (PSC) called for the licence to be issued as “scientific facts” show that the controversial Kuantan plant is safe.

The positive feedback tabled in the PSC report came just four days after the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry (Mosti) dismissed an appeal against the facility by residents living nearby and instead imposed two conditions that Lynas said it will have no problems satisfying.

However, residents who filed the appeal to MOSTI have said they will challenge the minister’s decision in court, calling the conditions “flimsy” and “not specific enough and will in no way safeguard or appease the fears of residents living in the area.”

The parliamentary committee on Lynas was approved in the Dewan Rakyat in March amid opposition furore over the alleged lack of terms of reference and suspicion that the nine-man panel would be used to “whitewash” the issue.

Pakatan Rakyat lawmakers also questioned the point of the select committee given that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had already said the government will not be bound by the panel’s findings.

Lynas had said last month that it was on track to start up what it says will be the world’s largest rare earth plant within weeks after Datuk Seri Khaled Nordin, chairman of the parliamentary committee, called it “the safest rare earth plant in the world.”

It also said in April that delays in obtaining the licence for its facility, which was initially approved in January, may have “very serious consequences” for the RM80 billion worth of rare earth orders already received as it is “sold out for the next 10 years.”

Himpunan Hijau plans to end its 24-hour protest this weekend by marching up to Lynas’s Gebeng plant on Sunday morning after a night of speeches called “rising flame of anger, turn Lynas to Ash.”

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