For several years now, I have been watching with growing interest developments surrounding the controversial Lynas rare earth processing plant in Kuantan, Malaysia. As an activist who has worked on numerous cases of toxic waste dumping and dirty technology transfer, this particular case drew my attention, mainly because it seemed to adhere to the template of similar cases I have encountered in the past (i.e. the so-called path of least resistance where a multinational company locates the dirtiest part of its operation in a country where environmental standards are less stringent).
Moreover, this case piqued my interest because I have been an admirer of the Malaysian government’s leadership on sustainable development issues at the global level, and so was wondering how Malaysia would be approaching the issue of radioactive waste management and disposal, which is associated with the processing of rare earths.
From our research and discussions with Malaysian groups who have been opposing the Lynas plant, it now appears that in applying for a license to be able to operate in Malaysia, the Australian company oversold its claims to the government when it initially gave assurances that it will operate according to best environmental standards and that no radioactive waste arising from the process will be disposed of in Malaysia, a key condition required by the authorities. The fact that Australia bars the entry of this radioactive waste back into the country where the rare earths are mined, means that Lynas now has to find an urgent and acceptable solution to its radioactive waste predicament.
In its bid to secure a permanent license to continue operating in Kuantan , the company has been exploring ways to go around the problem among them, a reckless and dangerous plan to recycle the radioactive waste into various products that could then be deployed in Malaysia. Talk about recycling and distributing a clear hazard.
We hope that the Malaysian government does not fall for this radioactive ruse, to continue justifying the plant’s operations in Kuantan.
Greenpeace Southeast Asia aims to protect our region from further ecological ruin and to serve as a beacon of awareness and action in the interest of environmental protection and sustainable development. We have been doing this with our friends and supporters in the region since our establishment in the year 2000.
We frequently work with networks, other Non-Government Organisations, community groups, concerned citizens and experts to investigate, document and expose issues that have local, national, regional and global significance.
Based on our recent investigations on the background and environmental concerns surrounding the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP) in Kuantan, Greenpeace believes that:
- The Lynas Corporation must close the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP) processing plant in Kuantan, Malaysia, until it puts in place best practice environmental protection protocols and conditions and provides an acceptable solution for the plant’s radioactive waste disposal outside of Malaysia.
- In view of this, the Federation of Malaysia Government (Persekutuan Malaysia) must deny Lynas Corporation a permanent operating license, prioritising the protection of Malaysian environmental and public health interests and modelling green development standards for Southeast Asia in the process.
- The Governments of Australia and Japan, and other stakeholders in the operations of the Lynas plant in Malaysia, must uphold the same environmental protection standards, as they demand for their own environment and populations.
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- Lynas must Close the LAMP in Kuantan.
- Federal Government of Malaysia has the opportunity to advance a Green Development for Southeast Asia and protect our environmental health.
- That those with a stake in Lynas, must avoid double standards, and stop exporting pollution to other countries.