Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

The rush to dump Australia’s thorium and uranium wastes in Malaysia

Unknown to the public the poorly done Preliminary Environmental Impact Assessment (PEIA) for Lynas does not cover the radiation and health concerns…… 

  • the space for underground wastes storage cells is very limited due to the groundwater being extremely close to the surface;
  • the ground is susceptible to subsidence as it is a former peat swamp area…. CAP and SAM recommend that:
    • The Lynas project be stopped in order to address the issues, including the Wastes Management Plan, which an Australian mining expert reported as being ‘yet to be disclosed by Lynas’;.

Lynas plant rushed ahead before radiation study Malaysia Kini 23 May 11 SM Mohamed Idris,  president of Consumers Association of Penang and Sahabat Alam Malaysia — The Lynas plant in Kuantan is unravelling into a nightmare. The lanthamide concentrates (rare earths) from Australia that Lynas will import into Malaysia contain thorium AND uranium, which suggests the processing in Kuantan will produce massive amount of radioactive wastes.

Further, there appears to be a serious disconnect in the entire review process of the Lynas plant. There seems to be two separate approval processes i.e. the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) under the DOE (Department of Environment) within the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment(MNRE), and the Radiological Impact Assessment (RIA) under the Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) within the MOSTI (Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation).

Unknown to the public the poorly done Preliminary Environmental Impact Assessment (PEIA) for Lynas does not cover the radiation and health concerns…….The Lynas project was fast tracked for approval by the Pahang State DOE, within two or three weeks of submission. The DOE received the PEIA on Jan 21, 2008 and approved it in early February.

For such a complex project involving radiation hazards with a very vague waste management, storage and disposal proposal, the speedy approval raises serious questions.

This is especially when the PEIA was submitted and approved, the RIA on radiation safety issues was still in the process of being written by the MNA for submission to the AELB. In light of this, our concerns are as follows:

Firstly, how could the PEIA recommend the ‘build’ option (page 3-8) when the radiation safety issues have not been considered? How could the state DOE have approved the PEIA in such haste?

Note that in the PEIA, the waste management proposal is vague and inadequate. They include the following::

  • the space for underground wastes storage cells is very limited due to the groundwater being extremely close to the surface;
  • the ground is susceptible to subsidence as it is a former peat swamp area;
  • the release of dangerous wastes into Sg Balok and subsequently into the sea;
  • the dangerous and toxic radioactive wastes which are supposed to be carefully stored onsite in special ponds and storage cells but then schizophrenically proposed to be re-used as fertilisers, concrete, plasterboards, for roads, etc (page 5-58, 59).

Secondly, the fact that there is an RIA independent of the PEIA means that there are now two independent and parallel impact assessments in existence. This is setting a dangerous precedent in the entire review process.

Under Malaysia’s environmental laws, the DoE is the primary coordinating authority on issues related to the environment and its impact on the well being of its citizens. The MNA and AELB are promoters of nuclear technology and this may give rise to conflicts of interests as MNA is the consultant that wrote the RIA for Lynas.

Thus, how effective will the DoE be in achieving its mandate to protect the environment and the well being of the people? How independent and autonomous is the DOE from the MNA-AELB?

Will DOE’S policies and decisions be subservient to the interests of the AELB? Will DoE have to relegate its role to the AELB in nuclear matters and issues related to radiation and its impacts? These questions have a crucial bearing on the credibility of the Lynas review process.

Thirdly, what is the RIA assessment and approval procedure under the AELB? While the general EIA process under the DOE is widely published and publicly available (e.g. on the DOE website), in comparison, the RIA process remains completely unknown and uncharted territory. …….

These are critical issues that need to be addressed concerning the Lynas project. Given the above, CAP and SAM recommend that:

  • The Lynas project be stopped in order to address the issues, including the Wastes Management Plan, which an Australian mining expert reported as being ‘yet to be disclosed by Lynas’;…….http://www.malaysiakini.com/letters/164870

May 24, 2011 - Posted by | secrets and lies, Western Australia |

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