Aussie lawmakers oppose Lynas exports to M’sia
Two members of the West Australian Legislative Council from the Green Party – Lynn MacLaren and Robin Chapple – want the state government led by Premier Colin Barnett to take action against the proposed export of rare earth containing radioactive Thorium 232 to Malaysia.
They warned that radiation levels of the material are just shy of the level that would trigger special export licence requirements for hazardous materials.
“This is hazardous material export under the radar of our environmental controls,” said MacLaren, who is also the party’s spokesperson on issues of transport.
She said the residents of Fremantle, through which the radioactive material is slated to pass through for shipment, and other communities living along the transport route, would also be against it.
Chapple, who is the party’s spokesperson on nuclear issues, condemned plans by Lynas to strip out and dump the radioactive material near Kuantan, citing widespread community and political opposition in Malaysia to the refine-and-dump proposal.
“The people of Kuantan are watching Western Australia very closely on this.
“The Malaysian media and the international media are watching to see if the state and Commonwealth governments make a responsible decision as to how this mine is operated and how its product will be exported,” he said.
He had met with Lynas Corporation officials on two occasions and is awaiting the delivery of its latest transport management plan.
“The Barnett government surely does not want to be complicit in the transport of radioactive materials through Fremantle, having stated repeatedly that he Barnett) does not wish to see radioactive material exported from Western Australian ports,” said Chapple.
“I would hope that he does not also want to be complicit in the dumping of radioactive waste in another country.
‘Ensure no thorium leaves Mount Weld’
“The premier must take action to compel Lynas to ensure that no thorium leaves the Mount Weld mine site,” he added.
Chapple and MacLaren also noted that a high level panel of international experts under the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is now investigating the Lynas project in Malaysia as a result of public concerns about radiation health and safety.
Chapple also revealed that he has been liaising with Malaysian MPs and the local community, who were very concerned about the thorium bound for their shores.
The construction of the RM700 million plant in Gebeng, some 25km northeast of Kuantan, to process the rare earth from Australia has sparked much public outrage over fears of potential radiation poisoning and its effects on the communities living in and around the industrial area.
Both Lynas and the government have given assurances that the plant’s operations would produce only negligible levels of radiation.
Lynas Malaysia Sdn Bhd is a subsidiary of Lynas Corporation of Australia.
However, opponents of the project stressed that concerns over radiation poisoning were inevitable as there has so far been no clear plan as to how, and where, the plant’s waste materials – said to be a major source of radiation – would be disposed of.
In a move to allay growing concerns, the authorities recently announced that IAEA, the United Nations nuclear agency, would set up an expert panel to advise it on the potential radiation risks of the plant.