Rare earth plant and general election 2012-02-03 , By LIM SUE GOAN Translated by SOONG PHUI JEE Sin Chew Daily, 6 Feb 2012, “……….Since the AELB has granted the Lynas a temporary operating licence (TOL), Lynas should have complied with the 11 recommendations made by the IAEA. The authority has also listed another five extra conditions under the TOL, including a detailed plan for a permanent disposal facility (PDF), to avoid repeating a similar waste disposal issue of the Bukit Merah rare earth plant.
However, why is Lynas given 10 months after the TOL’s issuance date to submit the plans and location of the PDF? In addition, the authority also has the right to appoint independent consultants to evaluate Lynas’ adherence to the set standards and regulations. Does it mean that the government may suspend the plant’s operation, if the conditions are found broken?
Also, Lynas must comply with the financial assurance condition by paying the government a US$50 million security bond in installments. However, it is not the main concern as the people’s health is priceless. With Lynas’ financial strength, US$50 million is nothing.
Would the anti-Lynas protest groups compromise after so much have been done by the government? Would the MCA and Chinese community groups change their stand? From the attitude of the Anti-Lynas groups and the public response, the Bukit Merah rare earth plant tragedy seems to be still clear in their minds. Under the international trend of concern over environmental issues, it is quite impossible to eliminate the opposition voices from the public.
The people resist even high-tension cables, telecommunication towers and garbage incinerator, how would they tolerate a rare earth plant that could bring radiation problems?
In addition, the authorities have left some doubts in dealing with the issue. For example, why the construction work of the plant was not suspended during the period when Lynas is required to fully comply with the 11 recommendations put forward by the IAEA? The progress of the construction work of the Mount Weld plant in Western Australia has even gone beyond expectation. Lynas had also constantly announced the date of operation, seemed like it was very sure of being granted an operation licence.
The uproar might be avoidable if the government has high credibility and supervision efficiency, which are also the key of the issue. http://www.mysinchew.com/node/69705
Although the Lynas rare earth plant is the world’s largest rare earth plant with the capacity to meet a fifth of the world’s demand, the people’s health is still the most important issue. The rare earth plant issue will be a thorny issue for the election.