Monday, November 21, 2011

Can a series of short films halt an impending environmental disaster called Lynas?

Madam Lai Kwan was pregnant in 1982 when she worked at the Mitsubishi rare earth refinery in Bukit Merah, Malaysia. This film is a peek into the life she has led since her child was born in 1983...

I applaud Tan Chui Mui's cinematic initiative, dubbed Survival Guide untuk Kampung Radioaktifwherein she recruited a group of young filmmakers to raise public awareness on an extremely serious issue through satire, humor and empathy. What prompted Tan to take action is the simple fact that she was born 33 years ago in a fishing village named Sungai Ular, a stone's throw from the site in Gebeng, Pahang, where Lynas Corporation is in the process of completing what is touted to be the world's largest rare earth processing plant.

Lynas Advanced Materials Plant under construction in Gebeng, Pahang

According to Fuziah Salleh, PKR member of parliament for Kuantan, Lynas submitted its Environmental Impact Assessment to the Pahang state government on 21 January 2008 - and it was approved in less than 3 weeks.

Rare earth processing in China: a health hazard
Something like that can indicate one thing only - a few powerful and privileged palms were heavily greased. Even more astounding, Malaysia's Ministry of International Trade and Industry granted Lynas the very next day a 12-year tax holiday. Undoubtedly, dishonest bureaucrats, bribeable panjandrums, and extremely lax environmental enforcement were the main reasons why Lynas picked Malaysia for its highly polluting rare earth processing plant - and the fact that Gebeng is situated in Pahang, Najib Razak's home state, may also be a factor.

Twenty years ago, Lynas would have met with little, if any, public resistance. However, times have changed. The people of Kuantan are up in arms about the imminent destruction of their peaceful, low-stress lifestyle. Indeed, the 700,000 residents of Kuantan district have good reason to be stressed out by Lynas's giant rare earth processing plant - because they live within a 35km radius of it.

Isengard, industrial stronghold of the dark wizard Saruman

Most of us know next to nothing about rare earth processing and what it entails. However, we have seen the aftermath of rare earth processing and what it does to the environment - particularly in China, which has been the world's #1 extractor and processor of rare earths over the last three decades. If you have seen Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings, you would have a good idea what Mount Doom looks like. That's how the landscape is left after rare earth has been extracted... and Saruman's industrial hell, Isengard, gives you a rough idea how the landscape will look when these radioactive metals are processed.

Malaysia will have to be renamed Mordoria...

Lynas claims its rare earth processing plant will provide 350 jobs to Malaysians. Big deal - especially when Lynas will be exempt from paying taxes for 12 years on its projected earnings of approximately RM8 billion a year.

Sauron rules in Mordoria!
No surprise then that the BN government is wholly behind the project when it has already been paid an undisclosed amount as "a deposit against possible environmental damage." Apart from this, politically connected companies like Kencana Petroleum (whose CEO happens to be Mokhzani Mahathir, eldest son of former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad) have been awarded lucrative construction contracts.

Lake poisoned by toxic waste from a rare earth processing plant
Radioactive waste water being pumped out from a Chinese rare earth processing plant.

~ New York Times



masterymistery said...

If we don't get rid of these pesky humans, I fear the whole world will resemble Isengard. And if humans stop fighting each other for long enough to take some baby steps into space, then ultimately the Solar System, then the galaxy and finally the whole universe will be known as Mordoria.

If I were posting the above comment in my blog Cosmic Rapture, it would be under the label of Miss Anne Thropy!

But what Species has ever been more deserving of "re-education" than homo sapiens sapiens?

mabuaya said...

I hear that one 'yellow' palm was greased to the tune of RM300 million

UP41 said...

I ve share the 2 short movies by Tan Chui Mui & her friends. I am going to share yr post in my FB too. News must be spread until no one will work in that plant even all the devils complete it.

Unknown said...

Brilliant post, Antares. I just made a video clip on environmental issues and have featured a segment on Lai Kwan, Asian Rare Earth and Lynas too. Have sent you the link.

Thank you for writing so passionately on such a serious issue that affects every single one of us!

My heart goes out to all the victims, then, now and those in the future (if there is one at the rate things are moving)...

mattsalleh said...

May I suggest that the Kuantan's and Beserah's fishermen be made aware the toxic wastes will be dump into the sea and will have detrimental effect on their fisihing grounds.

flyer168 said...

Good posting Antares, bravo.

Just to share this...

Mamat Mat Salleh yang benci Lynas dan sayang Malaysia – YouTube -

Thorium: Rare Earth Liability or Asset? - Commodities & Futures -

However, if a meltdown were to occur, all planned future nuclear power facilities would be jeopardized.

"If thorium takes off as a nuclear fuel, rare earth mining companies would be smart to start stockpiling it instead of looking for ways to safely dispose of the material."

*ALERT**STUXNET VIRUS* Pt 1 & Pt 2 Fukushima's Nuclear Plant Destroyed by Israeli Security Company Magna BSP – YouTube -

ReportOnRareEarthElements.pdf (application/pdf Object) -

Increased demand coupled with limited exports caused dramatic price increases of individual rare earth element oxides over the past two years.

In July 2010, neodymium oxide cost $108 U.S. dollars per kilogram,

but a year later in July 2011 the same neodymium oxide was selling for "$245 U.S. dollars per kilogram."

This represents a "226% price increase in one year". Similarly, the price of dysprosium oxide increased "200% in one year" with "one kilogram of dysprosium oxide now costing $1,200 U.S. dollars" (

These price trends can be observed with nearly all rare earth elements and prices are not expected to go down in the near future."

"Who are the real beneficiaries of the RM8 billion a year income — the state government, Lynas Australia, the federal government, Lynas (M) Sdn Bhd?"

Siapa yang Pandai...Lynas Australia & the Lynas (M) Sdn Bhd

Siapa yang Bodoh...the federal government, the state government

Siapa yang jadi "Mangsa"...

Generations of our children to come, as well as the expanding population that has to work, live and perhaps die in the vicinity of the proposed plant....further on into the neighbouring state of Terengganu.

Obviously "Some people" have taken the carrot ($$$) upfront & the truth cannot be revealed?

So the "Charade" has to be carried out...

We all have to do all we can, in any way, to stop this Lynas madness.

“Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.” - John Quincy Adams

You be the judge.