Malaysia

Lawyers want Lynas out of Malaysia

By Debra Chong
July 16, 2011

A construction worker walks near the LAMP building in Gebeng, near Kuantan. — file picA construction worker walks near the LAMP building in Gebeng, near Kuantan. — file picKUALA LUMPUR, July 16 — The Malaysian Bar continued today its push for Australian miner Lynas Corp to move its RM700 million rare earths refinery in Kuantan out of the country, and blasted the authorities for failing to make public the project’s radioactive risk management.

It noted too the absence of Lynas Corp’s top leaders at the ground level to engage the local community who would be most directly affected by any radioactive fallout, half a month after an independent panel from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had submitted its report and recommendations.

“We note that the project is still very much shrouded in secrecy and characterised by a serious lack of transparency,” said Bar Council chief Lim Chee Wee in a statement.

“The level of engagement and consultation with people who will be most affected by the project has been extremely limited and woefully inadequate,” he added, noting the review board’s scope had not included any assessment of the plant’s impact, particularly on the environment, the employees and the community.

The lawyer described the lack of initiative from both Putrajaya and Lynas as “outrageous” as the potential impact from the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant’s (LAMP) radioactive wastes on human and environmental health were well known by now.

“It is highly arrogant and irresponsible that neither Nick Curtis, Chairman of Lynas Corporation, nor any senior representative of the company has been on the ground and continuously engaging with the community,” Lim said.

He said a series of 10 discussion sessions had been planned, but Lynas Corp “never directly attended the consultations” and the meetings were cancelled after only two sessions.

He further highlighted a recent report from influential US daily, New York Times, that there are serious construction and engineering flaws in the storage facilities for the radioactive waste that could result in grave contamination.

“The Malaysian Bar strongly urges the government to take all necessary steps to halt LAMP, and to protect its people and environment,” Lim said.