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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Nicholas Curtis defends radioactive thorium Lynas

Nicholas Curtis, executive chairman of Lynas, maintained that the project in Gebeng, Pahang, Malaysia was entirely safe after several reports and concerns were raised in the aftermath of the nuclear troubles in Japan as well as a landmark case that happened in Perak, Malaysia many years ago that is somewhat related to radioactive contamination and the effects of exposure including leukaemia. Remnants or waste from the processing plant which will include iron phosphorus gymsum contains radioactive thorium compound.

Thorium is a component of the magnesium alloy called Mag-Thor, used in aircraft engines and imparting high strength and creep resistance at elevated temperatures. Thoriated magnesium was used to build the CIM-10 Bomarc missile, although concerns about radioactivity have resulted in several missiles being removed from public display.

Thorium is also used as an alloying agent in gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW) to increase the melting temperature of tungsten electrodes and improve arc stability. The electrodes labeled EWTH-1 contain 1% thorium, while the EWTH-2 contain 2%. Thorium is a very effective radiation shield, although it has not been used for this purpose as much as lead or depleted uranium. Thorium is a fertile material for producing nuclear fuel in a breeder reactor. Uranium-thorium age dating has been used to date hominid fossils.

Thorium dioxide is a material for heat-resistant ceramics, e.g., for high-temperature laboratory crucibles. When added to glass, it helps increase refractive index and decrease dispersion. Such glass finds application in high-quality lenses for cameras and scientific instruments.

The radiation from these lenses can self-darken (yellow) them over a period of years and degrade film, but the health risks are minimal.

Read more about thorium here:

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