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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Lynas Gebeng getting the heat

The RM700mil plant being built by Lynas Corporation of Australia has caused anxiety among nearby residents following news reports about the dangers of radioactive waste discharged from rare earth processing.

“Proponents of the project are using the term low-level radiation to allay fear.

“But the fact remains that it is still a form of radiation and it is carcinogenic,” he said.

Dr Jayabalan called on authorities to learn from the lessons in Bukit Merah, Perak, where deaths associated with leukaemia and unexplained miscarriages involving young healthy women had been reported among people living in the vicinity of the rare earth metal processing plant.

The plant belonging to Mitsubishi Chemical was closed in 1992 following health and environmental issues.

“In Bukit Merah, there were eight documented leukaemia cases.

“I had personally handled five of the cases, which included four children.

“Four of them, who were living about 500m from the plant, had since died,” he said.

Dr Jayabalan called on health authorities to check the number of tumour cases among those living in the vicinity, adding that tumours could occur even 20 years after exposure to radiation.

Lynas is mining rare earth in Australia, but plans to process it 2,500km away in Pahang.

“The end product that is sold to the global market belongs to Lynas, and the radioactive wastes would be dumped in Malaysia,” he said, noting that the Malaysian Government was even giving a 12-year tax exemption to Lynas.

“This is a typical case of a first world country dumping hazardous waste in a third world country.

“At the end of the day, the health cost would overwhelm all else,” he said.

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