PETALING JAYA: Lynas Corporation Ltd has hit back at allegations by a Green Coalition Party member which it said questioned the company's business integrity and the overall safety of the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP).
Ahmad Bungsu Hamid Tuah, an American-trained nuclear physicist, told the media on Wednesday that the levels of radiation expelled by the LAMP would exceed that of the Fukushima disaster.
He also warned that the radioactive particles would be absorbed by rainwater which would subsequently be carried by South China Sea winds across the country and put all Malaysians at risk.
In a statement to FMT today, Lynas expressed "deep concern" over these "false allegations" and sought to set the record straight.
The Australian mining giant first slammed Ahmad's statement of the LAMP's radiation levels exceeding that of Fukushima as "completely false and misleading to the public".
"As part of obtaining the right to operate in Malaysia, Lynas has been granted approvals from the Department of Environment (DOE), International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) and the Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB), proving the safety of the LAMP," Lynas pointed out.
Lynas emphasised that its facility is a simple, chemical processing plant and there was no comparison between it and a nuclear plant.
"Lynas' processes and operations are not unusual in the chemical industry, and they are similar to other plants that already exist in the Gebeng industrial park," it said.
"The rare earth ore from Australia is not even considered radioactive material. It doesn't require radioactive placarding. Under the Basel Convention that material is not considered radioactive."
Lynas then debunked Ahmad's warning of radioactive rain by bluntly saying that the LAMP would and could not cause such a phenomenon as there was no significant exposure, nor any health and safety risk from Lynas emissions to the air.
The company pointed out that thorium – an element in virtually all rare earth materials – itself is not soluble in water hence eliminating the risk of residue entering into the river and water tables.
"But to address people's concerns, Lynas has installed an European air monitoring equipment on site and in town to measure and clearly demonstrate to everyone that it will cause zero harm," Lynas assured.
Reiterating its commitments
Lynas' statement comes ahead of the biggest nationwide rally on Sunday against its RM2.5 billion rare earth plant expected to fire up its operations in Gebeng by the second quarter of the year.
Himpunan Hijau 2.0 was the response of various anti-Lynas groups to AELB's approval of Lynas' temporary operating licence (TOL) earlier this month.
The rally's steering committee member Clement Chin had last week warned that allowing Lynas to operate would open the doors to more such plants in the future.
In rebutting Chin's statement, Lynas pointed to the numerous industries within Malaysia and around the world that generate radioactie waste.
"If all industries that produce radioactive wastes are shut, then a vast array of products, goods and services would no longer be available to society," it said.
Lynas also reiterated its commitment to the safety and health of its employees, business partners, the communities around it and the planet at large.
"Lynas has complied, and will continue to comply, with the requirements of the Malaysian government regulatory authorities in relation to the LAMP in ensuring that the LAMP presents no hazard to the community or Lynas workers," it assured.
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