RARE EARTH 17 Dec 2012
The Toxic Waste That's Not In Our Back Yard
By Wendy Bacon
Australian-owned company Lynas is quietly shipping rare earth to a processing plant in Malaysia - without a firm plan in place to dispose of dangerous radioactive waste.
If a manufacturing plant involving radioactive materials moved into your community, one of the first things you would ask is, "what’s going to happen to the waste?"
This is exactly how residents of Kuantan on Malaysia’s east coast reacted when the Australian company Lynas announced plans to build LAMP, the world’s biggest rare earth processing plant in their area.
Several years later, they have no clear answer. Indeed last week, while the plant that will use concentrate imported from Lynas’s rare earth mine at Mount Weld in Western Australia was finally ramping up for production, the Malaysian Government and the company were in direct conflict about what would happen to the waste.
On 8 November, after two years of delays caused by court challenges and inquiries, a halt on a temporary licence granted to protesting citizens in September was lifted. Five days later, Lynas secretly moved 100 containers of rare earth concentrate from a depot at Bilbra Lake and quietly shipped them through Fremantle Port. The containers were unloaded and delivered under police escort to the $800 million plant on 22 November.
Read the rest here: The Toxic Waste That's Not In Our Back Yard
Oh, and by the way, the three Kuantan residents have failed their bid to obtain a stay of the government’s decision to issue the temporary operating licence (TOL) to Lynas Malaysia.
The judges at the Court of Appeal upheld the Kuantan High Court decision as “correct in fact and in law" and have now ordered costs of RM20,000 to be paid by the residents.
Half was awarded to jointly to Lynas Malaysia and Lynas Corporation (the Australian side), and the rest to science, technology and innovation minister and the Atomic Energy Licensing Board.
That is Malaysian justice for you.