New Report: Australian rare earth corporation dumping toxic waste on the environment and future generations in Malaysia

MEDIA RELEASE Thursday 14 March 2013

A new report by the respected Oeko-Institut (Institute of Applied Ecology) concludes that Australian-owned Lynas Corporation's rare earth processing plant seriously threatens the health of the local environment in Kuantan, Malaysia, fisheries, and the the livelihoods and well-being of coastal communities.


Mr. Gerhard Schmidt, author of the report and project manager at Oeko-Institut said, “Our report critically assesses the adequacy of the data, assumptions and predictions found in Lynas' Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and Radiological Impact Assessment (RIA). We have found serious issues with waste management, radioactive and non-radioactive emissions in air and water, governance and licensing issues and lack of a proper Hazard Management Plan.”


There are abnormalities and missing data in the application documents, they lack a thorough investigation of all emissions of the LAMP instead relying on the inadequate Malaysian environmental regulation in respect to air quality and water – ultimately not accounting for all emitted substances.”


The Residue Storage Facilities (RSF) and treatment systems of Lynas for abating emissions of acidic gases, acids and dust are also flawed and are far from being worlds-best-practice and state-of-the-art technologies, especially in respect to leakage prevention.”


Lee Tan, a Kuantan born Australian resident formerly the Asia-Pacific Campaigner with the Australian Conservation Foundation said, “Lynas plans to manage the Water Leach Purification residue waste which contains radioactive thorium into the public domain through commercial use, either in its original form or in a mixture with other diluting substances like concrete or fixing agents. This would lead to the real threat of direct radioactive exposure to individuals, including workers and the general public. As stated in the Oeko-Institut report this option is unacceptable and should be banned.”


Currently the LAMP has no long-term permanent disposal facility of its radioactive wastes and it is far from certain that a disposal site will be available in any meaningful time frame.


Tully McIntyre, Rare Earths campaigner at Friends of the Earth Australia states, “Lynas must develop a thorough cradle-to-grave waste management plan regardless of its unacceptable proposed commercial uses. That plan should be developed, assessed, approved and be in place, before any other operations are allowed. It must be safe and publicly acceptable by affected local communities.”


It is unacceptable that Lynas lacks a long-term plan to dispose radioactive wastes from the LAMP. The LAMP should not be allowed to generate any waste until such a facility is in place.”


Ms Tan said, “Lynas cannot be considered to have achieved a social license to operate the LAMP until all environmental and socio-economic information gaps are closed and independently endorsed mitigation strategies are developed.”


For the LAMP to continue operating places great risk to the environment and future generations.”


Ms McIntyre continues, “This is not just a 'Malaysian' issue', Australia will be responsible for exporting a toxic legacy to hundreds of thousands of Malaysians if the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant is not stopped. Imagine the uproar in Australia if Malaysia was dumping toxic waste in Australia's backyard!”


For Oeko-Institute’s full report download here >>

For the summary of the report download here >>


For more information: [email protected]

Tully McIntyre, +61 410 388 187 (Australia)

Gerhard Schmidt, +49 175 1834118 (Germany)

Lee Tan, +60 9513 3484 (Malaysia)