Friday, 1 July 2011

Construction Flaws In Lynas Refinery

I don't want to sidetrack from the main issue in these past few weeks, but I thought there may be some of you out there (especially those in Kuantan) who might be interested in this article from the New York Times.

Of main concern is this: The Fear of a Toxic Rerun

But the construction and design may have serious flaws, according to the engineers, who also provided memos, e-mail messages and photos from Lynas and its contractors. The engineers said they felt a professional duty to voice their safety concerns, but insisted on anonymity to avoid the risk of becoming industry outcasts.

The problems they detail include structural cracks, air pockets and leaks in many of the concrete shells for 70 containment tanks, some of which are larger than double-decker buses. Ore mined deep in the Australian desert and shipped to Malaysia would be mixed with powerful acids to make a slightly radioactive slurry that would be pumped through the tanks, with operating temperatures of about 200 degrees Fahrenheit.

The engineers also say that almost all of the steel piping ordered for the plant is made from standard steel, which they describe as not suited for the corrosive, abrasive slurry. Rare earth refineries in other countries make heavy use of costlier stainless steel or steel piping with ceramic or rubber liners.

This sounds like a serious hazard.


G-Daddy said...

Smile, yes I would be interested in this post.

Sigh all miners are value oriented, that includes most refineries/smelters. lowest capital construction cost with a life cycle that matches the life of the ore resource.

Cheaper to replace the steel when it is worn out in a few years than use stainless I bet.

The voids in the concrete is just bad construction. Shame on them!

Crankster said...

Hi G.

When we're talking radioactive material, I think the whole issue of cost should go out the window.

The after-effects of Chernobyl and a previous attempt documented HERE