Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Feedback on Lynas' Radioactive Waste Plan

Related Submission/Media Release:
1) SMSL-SLC : Local Says Market Won't Buy Lynas' Recycled Waste
2) Epidemiologist & Chemical Engineer (Environment) : Fears Linger over Lynas Plant
3) Kuantan MP 
Written Submission to MOSTI/AELB
4) Consumer Assoc. of Penang(CAP) & Sahabat Alam Malaysia(SAM)  Written Submission to MOSTI/AELB

Joint Submission dated January 26, 2012 to AELB & MOSTI
by  Save Malaysia Stop Lynas (SMSL) and Stop Lynas Coaltion (SLC) on
Lynas Malaysia rare earth refinery application documents for pre-operating licence

A photograph taken on Jan13, 2012 while Lynas rare earth plant which is of radioactive industry was flooded.
1.0 General Overview
Document 1 – Radioactive Waste Management Plan(RWMP) &
Document 2 – Safety Case for Radioactive Waste Disposal LAMP

Upon review of the two documents on displayed, many gaps
and problems have been identified as follows:

• The current RWMP (Doc 1) and the associated Safety Case
(Doc 2) have not presented an effective safe and reliable waste
management strategy for both radioactive and non-radioactive

• The absence of a detailed EIA to address crucial environmental
issues such as the LAMP’s impact on the various eco-system
services risks irreversible environmental damages, food
contamination, health hazards and loss of livelihoods and income
for local people.

• The absence of ANY social impact assessment greatly
disadvantaged communities and business owners who face
adverse consequences as a result of the LAMP.

• Lynas has not fully disclosed details of the contentof each of the
individual waste streams. These materials may be hazardous
and/or toxic with serious health and/or environmental hazards.
In the absence of complete data, it will be risky and impossible
forMOSTI and the AELB to assess the merits and credibility of
Lynas’ remedial procedures for its waste streams.

• Lynas by its own admission hasbased solely on laboratory tests
and theories or concepts to design and handle its complex
hazardous waste streams. These data cannot be relied on for
licensing approval.

• Lynas’ claimed low concentration of radioactive thorium and
uranium has not been verified by any independent experts. No
detailed data or sampling data has been made available for public
scrutiny. The radioactivity levels are all estimated with none
measured. This increase the project hazard risks greatly.

• Lynas being a speculative company with no other fixed assets
or financial reserves beyond the sole rare earth project is
financially risky. Lynas’ cash flow and financial viability are
highly dependent on the demand for its rare earth oxides and their
market value.

A safe rare earth refinery plant requires high engineering
standard and  heavy capital investment. The LAMP was rushed
through with shonky construction and cheap building materials.
Inside information has shown:

serious defects and faults even before the plant is operational. See
photos attached for some of the examples of the problems.

Its flood prone location rendering the plant at risk of being flooded
potentially polluting the surrounding peat land, ground water and
waterways as well as the South China Sea – see photos of Lynas in
flood and its flooded waste water outlets.

Attached letter showing a reputable international chemical company
AkzoNobel cancelling a contract and refunding Lynas. [please scroll down to the bottom to view the letter.]

1.2 Suggestions:
In the absence of a clear scientific consensus on the health impact
of low dose radiation exposure, the precautionary principle should
prevail. MOSTI and AELB must uphold its duty of care for the
citizens and to protect public health and safety by rejectingLynas’
current application for a pre-operational licence and seek its
re-submission to specifically address the following:

• To carry out a detailed environmental impact assessment
addressing aspects of the environment including the Balok River,
the mangrove communities, the South China Sea and the peat
land in the plant and surrounding area which have not been studied
to date.

• To carry out a social impact study in order to determine the
implication of the project for the local and wider community.

• To ensure that both the detailed EIA and the SIA will be easily
accessible to the public with sufficient time for comments and input

• Provision of financial surety or bond before any licence is issued
to ensure adequate funds are available to meet the costs of any
industrial accidents, unexpected contamination from Lynas’
waste streams.

MOSTI through the MPK to carry out an independent engineering 
audit to identify the range of construction defects and design fault 
before considering any licensing application by Lynas for its LAMP

Before the plant allowed to start operation, the radioactive waste water treatment pond was already full of rainwater.
2.0 Specific issues from Document 1
Document 1 - Radioactive Waste Management Plan

2.1.1 Comments on Section 2.1 p. 12Malaysia’s regulatory requirement stipulates that two Ministries are
responsible for matters pertaining to the Radioactive Materials i.e.
MOSTI and the Ministry of Health (MOH) where medical aspects
come under the MOH. However, the MOH appear not to have been
consulted about the project to date even though there are many health
issues which should concern the MOH.

2.1.2 Suggestions on Section 2.1 p. 12
• The MOH should be actively engaged in the discussion around health
risks and hazards of the LAMP.

• MOH needs to play an active role in the decision making process about
the LAMP.

2.2.1  Comments on Section 3 p.33
Table 3 contain incomplete and inconsistent data. A detailed and
complete list of substances in each of the waste streams is not available,
raising questions as to Lynas’ commitment to transparency and
accountability. Examples:

• Hydrofluoric acid was used in the process but no data is shown on this
highly toxic substance.

• Lead is mentioned to be present but it is not in the list in Table 3

2.2.2  Suggestions on Section 3 p.33
Lynas should be made to produce a COMPLETE list of substances in
each of its waste streams including their estimated quantity. These data
are essential to facilitate an informed decision making process. In the
absence of these vital information, any decision made will be futile
and risky.

2.3.1  Comments on Section 3 p. 37
The graph is inconsistent with the discussion and Lynas’ proposed doubling
of production from year 2. The straight linear relation is based on the
lower Phase 1 capacity. It has not been adjusted for the doubling of
capacity in Phase 2

2.3.2 Suggestions on Section 3 p.37
Lynas must be required to produce consistent and accurate
data to facilitate informed decision making.

2.4.1  Comments on Section3.3.4
Information on p.38 indicated that Lynas has yet to find a permanent
solution to its radioactive waste (WLP). Its proposal to convert the waste
into commercial by product/s is puzzling and UNACCEPTABLE as the
discussion in Document 2 (p8 Exec Summary) indicated that only the lesser
radioactive contaminated FGD and NUF are to be turned into gypsum and
fertiliser enhancer.

The proposal to use any of Lynas waste stream for commercial purpose
is highly unsafe and risky therefore unacceptable. It will literary scatter
Lynas’ radioactive substances into households, offices and food production
areas. This will expose more people to long-term contact to lose dose
radiation and increase the risk of ingestion of radioactive particles.
Further, Lynas’ radioactive waste will become more unstable and
hazardous as the radioactive thorium and uranium are subject to
a series of chemical reactions in the rare earth processing and the
subsequent decaying process through time. Information presented
in document 1 and 2 are based primarily on their inert properties and
behaviour. Their decaying state and their daughters include highly
dangerous substances such as the carcinogenic radon www.icrp.org/docs/ICRP_Statement_on_Radon(November_2009).pdf and a number of other
hazardous ‘daughters’.

A permanent site for its radioactive waste remained unspecific. In the
highly likely event that Lynas’ proposal to convert the radioactive waste
into commercial by-product/s cannot be approved or accepted, a safe
solution to store its radioactive waste remain unavailable posing serious
ecological, health and economic risks and hazards for the community and
Malaysia as a whole in the long run

2.4.2 Suggestions on Section3.3.4
MOSTI and AELB should not issue any pre-operating licence UNLESS
and UNTIL Lynas can realistically demonstrate a safe permanent solution
to its massive amount of radioactive waste. The AELB should not approve
of any attempt by Lynas to commercialise its waste – be they lowly
contaminated FGD and NUF or radioactive WLP. Commercialisation of
any of Lynas’ waste streams will essentially increase and spread the risk of
radiation exposure (no matter how low) and ingestion of radioactive particles.

3.0 Specific issues from Document 2 
Document 2 - Safety Case for Radioactive Waste Disposal LAMP

3.1.1  Comments on Exec Summary para 3 p. 8
Lynas is attempting to jump the gun by naming the FGD & NUF waste
asresidueswhen its plan to recycle as a feedstock to production of
synthetic gypsum or as a fertiliser enhancer is merely likelihood and
had not been subject to commercial feasibility study or consumers
acceptability of these by-products contaminated with radioactive
particles and other toxic heavy metals including lead as well as hazardous
substances such as phosphorous.

Phosphorus contaminated gypsum boards are now linked with radiation
exposure and is a subject of a safety campaign:

http://www.zerowasteamerica.org/Phospho-Gypsum.htm -
“The use of phospho-gypsum plaster-board and plaster cement in buildings
as a substitute for natural gypsum may constitute an additional source of
radiation exposure to both workers and members of the public, both from
inhalation of radon progeny produced from radon which is exhaled from the
plaster-board and from beta and gamma radiation produced by radioactive
decay in the plaster-board.”

Gypsum made from Lynas’ WLP will be classified as phosphor-gypsum.
Further issues that need addressing are:

1. Will there be a market for the synthetic gypsum which is likely to be
contaminated with radioactive particles (no matter how little) and
other hazardous substances? The American Gypsum Association do
NOT accept gypsum made with contaminated materials.

2. Similarly, will farmers and crop growers risk the food safety standard by
using fertiliser enhancer made from Lynas’ waste?

3. Contaminated gypsum in the USA has resulted in a class action against
the supplier and the importers see http://www.drywalllegalhelp.com/.

4. Even if the market accept the contaminated gypsum, can it fully absorb
the colossal amount produced given that the LAMP will be producing at
least 300,000 tonnes of contaminated waste every year?

3.1.2 Suggestions on Exec Summary para 3 p. 8
The commercial viability of such by-products needs to be assessed before
making any assumption that this recycling proposal is viable in reality.

MOSTI and AELB should seriously consider the dire consequences of
commercialising by-products made from Lynas’ contaminated waste.
Until and UNLESS a complete list of contaminants and its quantity is
clearly established, no commercialisation should EVER be considered as
a precautionary measure.

3.2.1  Comments on Section 2.15 Scheduled (Hazardous) Waste

Many of the substances in Lynas’ waste streams are toxic and hazardous.
Until and unless a complete list and their quantity is made known, decision
making based on the incomplete list will be futile.

3.2.2  Suggestions on Section 2.15 Scheduled (Hazardous) Waste

A complete list of substances which will be found in
Lynas’ waste streams should be made available to MOSTI
AELB and the public for closer scrutiny. Non-radioactive
substances have their own risk and hazards which should
be fully understood and dealt with.

3.3.1  Comments on Section 7.3 p. 50
Lynas has admitted to the strong relationship between Th02 and pH value,
which means that the thorium compound Th02becomes increasingly
soluble in more acidic environment. This is a serious concern since Lynas’
waste water will be discharged into the Balok River unlike other rare earth
plant such as Molycorp in the USA and newer projects being considered in
Australia with zero waste water discharge – despite their siting in arid and
semi-arid land in contrast with Gebeng’s wet tropical peatland!
Considering the Balok flood plain and the coastal region being such an
important seafood area and tourism hot spots, allowing Lynas to discharge
its waste water as proposed by Lynas will be futile and dangerous.

3.3.2  Suggestions on Section 7.3 p. 50
Lynas should NEVER be allowed to discharge its waste
water into the Balok River, the South China Sea via the
Balok River or in any other forms of channel. MOSTI and
AELB must insist on a zero discharge strategy upon Lynas
to safeguard the vital seafood and tourism industry of
the east coast of Malaysia. Failure to do so will result in
irreversible and expensive ecological and health problems
for generations to come.

3.4.1  Comments on Executive Summary p. 9
Given the strong relationship between Th02 and pH value, it is confusing
for Lynas to then claim the “ Low solubility of Thorium” as an important
property that contribute to its safe management in the Executive

The playing down of the low radioactivity of Lynas waste (notably WLP)
by Lynas in Document 2 which is meant to present a strong safety case
for its radioactive waste management is a real concern. A well designed
Safety Case should premise on the precautionary principle :
Instead Lynas has adopted a least cost and lowest common denominator
scenario in its proposal.
Lynas’ attempt to deceive the Malaysian authorities to play down the risks
and hazards of its radioactive waste can result in poor decision making
resulting in dangerous and hazardous pollution for the country.

3.4.2  Suggestions on Executive Summary p. 9 
MOSTI and AELB to warn Lynas against giving deceptive and inconsistent
information to confuse the problem and to play down the complexity of
managing thorium and uranium as well as other hazardous substances in
the waste streams.

MOSTI and AELB must insist that Lynas adopt the precautionary principle
for its Safety Case and demand Lynas to re-do the entire case based on
this premise before considering any licence application.


  1. Everybody know that radiation is bad for health. Japanese had learnt a bitter lesson after the earthquake that damaged their nuclear plants that lead to the leak in radioactivity that affected thousands of its citizens in 2011. We, Malaysians too had a bad experience in Bukit Merah, Perak. Until today, that is more than two decades, it is still unresolved. Now, a new nightmare resurface in Pahang. Is Lynas rare earth plant 100% safe? Or do we desperately need this plant to propel local economy at the expense of public health? Life is precious, STOP IT.

  2. Learn from history, please stop LYNAS from operating here for the sake of citizen. Life is precious billion times than money.

  3. Malayisa situation is very nice.Its actually good place.Everybody know that radiation is bad for health.One of my "favorite" question about Fuskuhima: Radiation badge.
    What is the weight of the second explosion plume ? (Implicit question is the pool empty ?)