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Back Top stories Government is Doing the Right Thing by Demanding Lynas Take All Its Waste

Government is Doing the Right Thing by Demanding Lynas Take All Its Waste

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The Government is quite right to demand Lynas take from this country all waste produced by the plant in Gebeng, but the way its position is being seized upon by the Opposition and its friends is as opportunistic and deceitful as ever.

And amid what Lynas calls the "noise" coming from the Malaysian media, important facts are going unnoticed. For one thing, the waste material at the heart of the furore is called synthetic aggregate – otherwise known as gravel.

So the same material that is used to build roads is being described as the so-called radioactive waste that is now the subject of yet another scare campaign by Pakatan Rakyat, green groups and the Opposition-friendly media.

The synthetic aggregate Lynas will produce is required to have radioactivity of no more than one becquerel (Bq) per gramme. To put it in perspective, that's the same as the background radiation at a quarry (producing gravel) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) recommended safe level is 5Bq. So Lynas will be producing so-called radioactive material that is less than a fifth of what is still considered to be the safe dosage according to the experts, and less than that produced by a cathode-ray tube television set.

And still it will be required to export it all under new Government orders. If it can't take it from Malaysia, it will have to shut down. Simple.

Against those stark facts, the present controversy is hard to comprehend, but it was sparked by reports that Lynas won't be exporting waste material out of Malaysia to any other country as it has been ordered to do by the Government. Lynas has denied this, saying it will export waste material as safe products, as it has always promised to do.

Somehow its opponents see this as a reversal of its position, which it isn't.

Amid the furore the Save Malaysia Stop Lynas (SMSL) group wants the plant immediately shut down just as it was finally operational, while the ever-opportunistic Lim Guan Eng is calling for heads of four Government Ministers involved in the approval process. Oh Guan Eng, is there any bandwagon you won't climb on board?

The irony is that not much has actually changed. The Government is still demanding Lynas produce waste material that is safe and the only variation is that it is now insisting Lynas take it all regardless.

Away from the breathless media in Malaysia, Lynas boss Nick Curtis has spoken to journalists in Australia where he said the issue is being used as "a pure political football" in the run-up to elections.

He said his company is confident of exporting all waste material because – again – it will be in the form of safe products not classified as radioactive.

"To appease the anxiety of the people, we have said we will voluntarily take it upon ourselves to export the material, at a cost to us," he said.

"This is not a license condition. I think in the heat of a political debate the position was exaggerated from what is actually the legal position."

The Government has always sought to do the right thing both in terms of scientific evidence and managing the concerns of the public, and what the Lynas saga has taught it is that there is a huge void between the two in terms of facts, perceptions and rhetoric.

In all probability, this present furore will die down in the next couple of days and Lynas will then get to work – that is until the next scare campaign alleging that the Aussie mining company is secretly building a nuclear reactor on our shores. This was a rumour that has already been peddled by SMSL.

When this episode dies dow,n it might be a good time for Pakatan Rakyat to tell us its official policy on the Lynas plant. Would Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim close it down, or is that something else Pakatan Rakyat is keeping vague to avoid being pinned down on the issue?

You need to let us know, Anwar. These things matter to any would-be responsible Government, and so far you haven't shown that you can form one.

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Comments  

 
+3 # Jack Wong 2012-12-12 10:34
The latest media attack on Lynas is obviously politically driven... it is pathetic to see people's fears milked for this kind of thing.

Shame on the opposition
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+1 # K Fisher 2012-12-12 11:39
Clearly the noise around all this is being made by Chinese Malaysians, as it appears the rest of hte community is comfortable with the Plant being their. I look forward to seeing SMSL in Court addressing the Defamation allegationslies and it will be then that we will see the truth behind their campaign. Clearly they will have to justify in a court in Kuantan their beliefs and one day they are all going to become unstuck. I simply cannot understand why they have not been held accountable yet in the local courts there, yet can go to court after court appealing. A very fishy legal system that protects one group and yet does not protect the victim in all this. Just my opinion.
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