Anti-Lynas NGO protests at Sydney headquarters AGM

November 28, 2013 3:14 PM

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Environmental group Himpunan Hijau is ramping up pressure on rare earth miner Lynas Corporation by holding protests at the firm's headquarters in Sydney, Australia.

Its chairman Wong Tack said they had been holding a camp-out at the Lynas headquarters as the company is scheduled to hold its annual general meeting of shareholders tomorrow.

He said in a statement that they wanted to send a strong message to Lynas' management and shareholders that their plant in Gebeng, Pahang, was not welcome and should be shut down.

Chemists and environment experts recently warned that problems in waste management, storage, the disposal facility and waste cleaning at the Lynas factory could lead to radioactive leakage.

Experts said the mining company's refinery near Kuantan had several problems which, in the event of an accident or carelessness, could pose harm to residents nearby.

Dr Gerhard Schmidt, a chemist from the Oeko Institute in Germany, said the factory had limited storage capacity and the waste was stored in a poor liner system.

Speaking at an event organised by NGO Pertubuhan Solidariti Hijau Kuantan (PHSK), Schmidt said the institute's report on the Lynas refinery showed they were not using correct materials.

"Lynas is using a single layer high density polyethylene lining to store the water leach purification, the by-products of the mining industries," he said.

"One layer is not sufficient since these sheets have to be welded on the spot and if the thickness is insufficient or the sheet is not welded properly, leaks can occur," he warned.

Schmidt said he thought that after the Oeko Institute had published the report, Lynas would take the necessary steps to resolve the problem, but it turned out otherwise.

Concern over Lynas's disposal of radioactive materials began in 2011 after residents feared that the plant in Gebeng would affect 700,000 people living within less than a 30km radius of the facility.

According to earlier reports, the Gebeng refinery produces a by-product known as Thorium, a radioactive element which causes cancer and is easily transported through wind and water.

Wong said 1.2 million Malaysians have signed the Himpunan Hijau petition of protest in a bid to get the Lynas plant to close down its operations in Malaysia.

On November 20 last year, activists from Save Malaysia Stop Lynas (SMSL) held a similar protest outside the Lynas Corporation headquarters during the company's AGM. - November 28, 2013.


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