LYNAS STILL SAFE

Safe ra­di­a­tion lev­els dis­prove op­po­si­tion’s claims, says vice-pres­i­dent

New Straits Times - - News -

HIDIR REDUAN

KUAN­TAN hidirre­d­uan@nst.com.my

FIVE years into its op­er­a­tions, the Lynas rare earth re­fin­ery in Gebeng here has proven to be safe with no threats of dan­ger­ous ra­di­a­tion lev­els per­me­at­ing the plant’s sur­round­ings.

Lynas Malaysia Sdn Bhd vi­cepres­i­dent and manag­ing di­rec­tor Datuk Mashal Ah­mad said the out­come was a strong re­but­tal to the al­le­ga­tions raised by the op­po­si­tion in the run-up to the 13th Gen­eral Elec­tion (GE13) in 2013.

He said the mil­lisiev­erts per year (mSv/y) mea­sured showed there was no spike in the ab­sorp­tion of ra­di­a­tion in the hu­man body. He said the cur­rent read­ings were from nat­u­ral sources, which in­clude rocks and soil.

“The read­ings of 0.69 mSv/y at the Lynas plant and 1.19 mSv/y in Kuan­tan are caused by nat­u­ral back­ground ra­di­a­tion. Th­ese are the same read­ings even be­fore (the Lynas plant) started op­er­at­ing five years ago.

“Since the read­ings to­day are the same be­fore Lynas ex­isted, it proves that Lynas did not con­trib­ute or add any ra­di­a­tion (to the en­vi­ron­ment),” said Mashal.

The in­ter­na­tional Atomic En­ergy Agency had capped the safe max­i­mum ra­di­a­tion ex­po­sure at 20 mSv/y.

On Sun­day, Prime Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Na­jib Razak said the op­po­si­tion had used claims of pur­ported ra­di­a­tion leak at the Lynas plant as a cam­paign tool dur­ing GE13.

Na­jib said the op­po­si­tion, how­ever, had since fallen silent over the is­sue af­ter GE13, prov­ing that the rare earth re­fin­ery was safe, con­trary to their claims.

Mashal said the ra­di­a­tion read­ings were con­firmed by two units of Aerosol Mon­i­tor­ing Sys­tem (AMS), which Lynas in­stalled be­fore the plant started op­er­a­tions five years ago to mon­i­tor and give real time read­ings of the ra­di­a­tion level in the plant and Kuan­tan.

He said the ac­cu­racy and in­de­pen­dence of the AMS read­ings were as­sured as Univer­siti Malaysia Pa­hang was the cus­to­dian of the equip­ment.

“Lynas op­er­ates based on Malaysian and in­ter­na­tional rules and stan­dards. There­fore, dis­cus­sions on Lynas must be fac­tual and based on said rules and stan­dards,” he said when asked about the claims raised by the op­po­si­tion.

Mashal said Lynas had spent RM2.7 bil­lion to build the plant and spent RM300 mil­lion an­nu­ally in op­er­at­ing costs, adding that the plant gen­er­ated jobs.

“Lynas em­ploys 587 per­ma­nent staff and 140 con­tract staff. Out of the 587 per­ma­nent staff, 569 are Malaysians, 11 are Aus­tralians and 7 fare rom other coun­tries. Out of 569 Malaysian staff, 419 are from Pa­hang.”

Mean­while, Kuan­tan Umno di­vi­sion deputy chief Datuk Seri Abd Hamid Mohd Naza­har likened the chal­lenge to de­bate on the is­sue by for­mer PKR vi­cepres­i­dent Fuziah Salleh as a cheap pub­lic­ity stunt.

He said Fuziah, who won the Kuan­tan par­lia­men­tary seat in 2013, said the pro­posed de­bate against Na­jib would only “hu­mil­i­ate” her.

He said the chal­lenge was only made af­ter Na­jib re­vealed the dis­in­for­ma­tion spread by the op­po­si­tion dur­ing the GE13 cam­paign.

“Fuziah had also (in an ear­lier state­ment) said she had never claimed the Lynas plant was a nu­clear plant, but the prime min­is­ter in his re­cent speech (in Pekan on Sun­day) had never men­tioned her name.

“How­ever, an op­po­si­tion leader had de­scribed the Lynas plant as a nu­clear plant,” he said yes­ter­day.

Hamid was re­fer­ring to an on­line video of a speech by DAP sec­re­tary-gen­eral Lim Guan Eng, who had, in a gath­er­ing five years ago, cam­paigned against the set­ting up of any rare earth plant in Pe­nang.

Lynas Malaysia Sdn Bhd vice-pres­i­dent and manag­ing di­rec­tor Datuk Mashal Ah­mad (in­set) says the Lynas rare earth re­fin­ery in Gebeng em­ploys 569 Malaysians as per­ma­nent staff.

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