Malaysian Environmentalists Continue to Fight Presence of Lynas Rare Earths Plant

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By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | December 3, 2013 3:26 PM EST

Almost two years after initially receiving in Feb 2012 the temporary operating licence (TOL) of its rare earths plant facility, Australian miner Lynas Corp continues to face resistance from environmentalists in Malaysia.

At least two groups, Himpunan Hijau and Save Malaysia Stop Lynas, have been opposed to the presence of the plant at Kuantan.

Oppositions recently re-ignited after Dr Gerhard Schmidt, a chemist for the Oeko Institute in Germany, following a recent visit to the plant, found the facility has limited storage capacity and that the waste is stored in a poor liner system, based on a report by the Malaysian Insider.

"Lynas is using a single layer high density polyethylene lining to store the water leach purification, the by-products of the mining industries," Dr Schmidt reportedly said at an event organised by NGO Pertubuhan Solidariti Hijau Kuantan (PHSK).

He noted Lynas did not use correct materials in the construction of the refinery.

"One layer is not sufficient since these sheets have to be welded on the spot and if the thickness is insufficient or the sheet is not welded properly, leaks can occur," he warned.

Environmentalists asserted around 700,000 people living within less than a 30km radius of the facility stand to get affected with radiation, most specially with Thorium, a radioactive a by-product element which causes cancer. They claimed this is easily transported through water and wind.

Wong Tack, chairman of Himpunan Hijau, said they have already gather 1.2 million signatures to force Lynas to close the facility and get out of Malaysia.

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