Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Lynas is doing a dangerously messy job at Mt Weld extracting rare earth...

Poisonous leaks: Lynas extracting rare earth at Mount Weld, Western Australia

28 November 2011

Lynas Corporation granted ‘permit to pollute’ with radioactive waste

Controversial rare earth manufacturer Lynas Corporation has been granted a licence by the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) that will allow the company to store radioactive slurry in ponds that will leak over 5 million litres of radioactive waste per annum, the National Toxics Network said today.

“This ‘permit to pollute’ comes on the back of the discovery by the DEC that the original tailings ponds built by Lynas would leak an astonishing 186,000 litres per day or, 67 million litres of contaminated waste per annum” said Lee Bell, NTN spokesperson.

The ponds are situated at the Lynas Concentrator plant at Mt Weld near Laverton.

“Rare earth ores from the Mount Weld mine undergo chemical processing at the plant with radioactive waste slurry from the process being dumped in ponds. The DEC refused to allow Lynas to dump their waste until they had constructed a smaller lined pond specifically for waste disposal” Mr Bell said.

Lynas plans to ship rare earth ore overland to Fremantle and then by sea to Kuantan, Malaysia
“Lynas have admitted in their Radiation Management Plan that their ore, concentrate and waste are sufficiently radioactive to be above the annual public dose limit of 1mSv per year. Despite this the DEC will let them use ponds that will leak up to 5 million litres per year of radioactive tailings waste” said Mr Bell.

“The Department of Mines and Petroleum have declared that the Lynas waste slurry must be managed as radioactive tailings due to its thorium and uranium content yet the concentrate, which has much higher radioactivity will not be transported as radioactive material - despite earlier approvals requiring this higher level of regulation. Malaysia will also require the Lynas concentrate to be transported as a radioactive material as soon as it lands” Mr Bell said.

“This is in stark contrast to public statements by Lynas that their product is so low in radiation that it does not need to be transported as a radioactive material when it is shipped through WA and Fremantle Ports. The public are being hoodwinked and government agencies are supporting this deception,” said Mr Bell

NTN calls on the Western Australian government to stop the leakage at Mount Weld and ban any shipments of the Lynas concentrate until an independent assessment of the radiation risks of Lynas concentrate is made public.

Media Contact – Lee Bell +61417 1966 04

Save Malaysia Stop Lynas Press Statement on Lynas’s Leaky Project
Monday, 28th November 2011

Lynas’s Mount Weld Plant Leaking Toxic Waste

The Save Malaysia Stop Lynas Committee (SMSL) has been informed by the Australian watch group National Toxic Network that Lynas’s Western Australia’s (WA) Mount Weld tailing ponds would leak an astonishing 186,000 litres of radioactive waste per day or, 67 million litres of contaminated waste per annum.

The WA Department of Environment and Conservation DEC has refused to allow Lynas to dump their waste until they have constructed a lined pond specifically for waste disposal.

“It is indeed a shocking discovery that Lynas would dare to do this knowing full well it would not be acceptable in Australia,” says Mr Tan Bun Teet, Chairman of SMSL.

However, even the new lined tailings facility is estimated to leak at the rate of up to 14,000 litres per day according to the Department of Environment and Conservation.

SMSL calls on the Government to suspend the construction of the Lynas Advanced Material Plant (LAMP) and institute a full-scale independent engineering audit.

Since exposure in the New York Times in late June of the LAMP’s serious design flaws and shoddy construction, there has not been any official investigation or independent audit to ascertain and ensure that Lynas has properly rectified the problems.

Lynas’s persistent recalcitrant behaviour is of great concern and a massive risk to public health and safety. If LAMP is allowed to operate, serious contamination problems will ensue, risking the entire economy and well-being of the local people and Malaysia as a whole.

It is high time the BN government exercised genuine prudence in the interest of public safety, the sustainability of vital environmental resources, and for the sake of our long-term economic health. We call on the government to use its power to fully and thoroughly investigate the various disturbing issues which have surfaced.

To date, the public has not been given access to detailed information on the project and Lynas's long-term waste management plan is unclear - although these are two of the key recommendations specified by the IAEA and agreed to both by the Malaysian Government and Lynas as requirements to comply with before the pre-operating licence is issued.

Find out more here!