The cabinet’s decision to extend Lynas’ operating licence is wrong It has to be urgently reviewed

Today marks the beginning of a six months operating licence extension granted to Lynas.

Lynas’ operating licence was approved seven years ago because they promised to remove all the wastes generated from their plant out of our country.

Instead of suspending Lynas’ licence for reneging on their legally binding agreement, the PH government has given them six more months to generate tens of thousands of tonnes of toxic radioactive wastes which Australia refuses to take back.

Our country has already lost 100 hectares of land to bury Japan Mitsubishi’s joint-venture Asian Rare Earth (ARE) radioactive wastes near Bukit Merah. Lynas’ 600,000 tonnes of radioactive wastes currently piled-up in their flood-prone backyard is already more than 50 times the lifetime amount generated by ARE.

So, how big a piece of land are we planning to offer Lynas? At what price is Lynas going to buy the land from us? Are they going to pay our children every 99 years until the end of time? Who is going to pay for the monitoring, management and maintenance of the dump for billions of years?

Recently, there were allegations that cracks have been observed in ARE’s permanent disposal facility (PDF), the construction of which was only completed a few years ago. If this allegation is true, then the Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister has to urgently come forward to explain to the people. What’s the extent of the damage? Any contamination of the soil and underground water? How is the to repair work going to be carried out? Can it be repaired? How long will it last? When will be the next crack? Who’s going to bear the cost of repair?

Now Lynas has been asked to build a PDF. How many more generations of our people have to be continuously burdened with anxieties about cracking, leaking, cost of repair, etc? And how do you define “permanent”? 100 years? 300 years? Bear in mind that the cancer-causing Thorium in Lynas’ radioactive wastes has a half life of 14 billion years. Therefore, the only things that are permanent here are permanent health, permanent financial and permanent psychological burdens. The government should not mislead the people. “Temporary” Disposal Facility is a more appropriate term to use.

Across my constituency of Bentong, from Bilut to Pelangai, there are many poor, honest and hardworking farmers who have been applying for small plots of land, an acre or two. Lands that they have tilled on to make a livelihood since their grandparents time. But until today, they remained living in anxiety, not knowing whether they will one day get chased off from their lands. The Orang Asli communities as we all know, are suffering the same fate, brutally denied of their ancestral lands. Yet, the leadership of this country have no qualms to offer a foreign corporate colonizer huge pieces of land for billions of years to dump toxic radioactive wastes.

The cabinet’s decision to extend Lynas’ operating licence is wrong. It has to be urgently reviewed.

Wong Tack
MP for Bentong
Media statement by Wong Tack in Bentong on Tuesday, 3rd September 2019