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Media statement by Lim Guan Eng in Kuala Lumpur on Friday, 3rd February 2012: 

Only PR will ensure that there are no rare earths plants and nuclear facility in PR states  

DAP regrets that BN government has shown that it is not committed to green and sustainable growth but instead is willing to sacrifice people's health for profits. Malaysia's Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) has granted Australian company Lynas Corporation a temporary operating licence (TOL) for its controversial Pahang-based and also the world largest rare earth refinery plant provided it fulfils five conditions.

Instead of focusing on race and religion, perhaps Barisan Nasional should explain why they are allowing the Lynas Rare Earth Plant in Kuantan to be operated; despite all the dangers inherent and even its regulators themselves did not have a clear radioactive waste disposal proposal from Lynas. Among other issues, the Lynas' waste management plan does not fully disclose the contents of its waste streams.

Two days ago the New York Times (NYT) had also reported that Dutch multinational AkzoNobel, a key contractor, had withdrawn from the project due to the safety concerns. Engineers involved in the project and internal emails showed that AkzoNobel withdrew from supplying the chemicals after it was told that the fibreglass liners would be installed in concrete-walled tanks that have a problem with rising dampness in the floors and cracks in the walls.

Followed by the issue of the conditional TOL, shares in Australian miner Lynas soared today. Clearly, the irresponsible BN government is colluding with the industry interest group at the expense of the health and welfare of the hundreds of thousands of innocent Malaysians.

Last year, the BN government have brought a panel of radiological experts from the IAEA to review the case. However, not only does the panel contain no public health and environmental expert, the IAEA is also seen to be industry-driven, and is expected to rubber-stamp their approval.

Sahabat Alam Malaysia(SAM) has revealed that the Lynas project was fast-tracked for approval by the Pahang State DoE. The DoE received the Preliminary Environmental Impact Assessment(PEIA) on the 21st of January 2008 and approved it in early February. Why is DOE acting with unholy haste to give their approval for such a complex project involving potentially radioactive hazards with a very vague waste management, storage and disposal proposal?

In the light of the nuclear disaster in a highly-advanced country like Japan, the BN government should also abandon their plans to build two nuclear power plants by 2020. Lynas has always insisted the plant, which will handle rare earths imported from Australia, will be safe, but if that is so why did Lynas not build it in Australia? Is it because Lynas is unable to convince Australian environmental and health regulators that radioactive waste would not leak out thus threatening public health and the environment?

If even the Australian authorities is unwilling to face such hazardous risks despite their highly rated safety standards, how can BN be trusted to ensure the safety and health standards of such a dangerous and high risk project like nuclear plant or rare earths refinery plant? BN has a poor abysmal safety record when the BN government cannot even build a stadium without its roof collapsing or the roof of Parliament leaking? Up to now no one knows where or which state the next plant will be sited.

Only a PR ruled state will not take such risks. I have stated clearly that so long as PR rules Penang, there will be no rare earth refinery plant or nuclear power plants. For this reason the people of Pahang as well as other BN states should learn an important lesson that only a PR ruled state can ensure that there is no rare earths refinery or mines or nuclear facilities to threaten their health and safety of their families.

Let your votes decide in the next general elections whether you want a nuclear plant or rare earth refinery plant in the backyard of your home!

*Lim Guan Eng, DAP Secretary General & MP for Bagan



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