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It was one of our first movements for Malaysia, and its relevance remains as important today as it was in 2014.

Working for a safer and healthier environment for the people who live in it has always been the heart and soul of our work. And that was exactly how we jump started our work with communities in Malaysia, to raise awareness and champion global issues at a grassroots level.

Lynas Malaysia Sdn Bhd is a facility that processes Rare Earth Elements (REE) in Kuantan, Pahang in Malaysia and has been facing scrutiny by community members since it began operations in 2012. Main concerns lie in the toxicity of REE refinement process, lack of transparency or local engagement and storage of low level radioactive waste.

Below is a brief timeline of events:

 

August 29, 2014

Greenpeace Malaysia joined local groups and submitted report on Lynas titled ‘A Radioactive Ruse’.

Greenpeace Malaysia joined local groups calling on the Malaysian government to deny the granting of a permanent license for the Lynas plant in Kuantan, citing the grave and unresolved radioactive and environmental threats associated with the controversial rare earth processing facility in the launch of Greenpeace report “A Radioactive Ruse”

According to Greenpeace findings, neither Lynas nor concerned government authorities provided sufficient information to the public and local communities about the potential pollution and risks involved in the plant’s operations. The documentation provided by Lynas in order to obtain operating licenses from regulators for example, has not been made accessible to the public. Furthermore, the group accused the company of applying lower environmental standards for its Kuantan plant than would be allowed in Australia.

 

November 22, 2018

Members of the Parliamentary Caucus on Monitoring Lynas (JKPPL) attended the Stop Lynas briefing.

 

Greenpeace Malaysia distributes Lynas report during briefing with Members of Parliament.

 

On 22 November 2018, Greenpeace went to Parliament to distribute our Lynas report (both in English and Bahasa) during Lynas briefing with members of parliament. Also attended were Save Malaysia Stop Lynas (SMSL) chairman Mr Tan Bun Teet, MP Kuantan Fuziah Salleh and MP Bentong Wong Tack. We need Lynas to do what’s ethically and professionally required: ship the waste back to where the ore came from. Otherwise, Lynas should stop operating in Malaysia.

 

April 10, 2019

Protest at Government Office in Kuala Lumpur. © Nandakumar S. Haridas / Greenpeace

Photo Op in front of Parliament on 10 April 2019. © Nandakumar S. Haridas / Greenpeace © Nandakumar S. Haridas / Greenpeace

On April 5, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said companies interested in acquiring Lynas pledged to remove radioactivity before shipping raw materials into the country.  

Protest at Government Office in Kuala Lumpur. © Nandakumar S. Haridas / Greenpeace

More than 10 Members of Parliament , including two Deputy Ministers and members of Parliamentary Caucus on Monitoring Lynas (JKPPL) voiced support and attended the assembly organised by Stop Lynas coalition members. © Nandakumar S. Haridas / Greenpeace © Nandakumar S. Haridas / Greenpeace

So on April 10, we mobilised alongside over 60 NGOs and community groups, Greenpeace appealed to the Malaysian government to fulfil their promises by suspending Lynas’ operating license and removing toxic waste from Malaysia. Our hope is that the Malaysian government will exercise greater caution and not allow itself to be deceived into believing that Lynas can find safe disposal options for its radioactive waste.

 

Heng Kiah Chun is a Campaigner with Greenpeace Malaysia.