MEDIA: Activists vow to ‘shut down Lynas plant this weekend’

KUALA LUMPUR, June 18 ― Thousands are expected to converge on the Lynas rare earth plant this Sunday in a massive protest to force the Australian mining firm out from Kuantan for good, environmental group Himpunan Hijau revealed today.

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Wong Tack, the leader of Himpunan Hijau, said the grassroots movement had already given an ultimatum to the plant’s parent company in Australia ― Lynas Corp ― six months ago to quit operating in Malaysia.

“Lynas only has four more days in Malaysia. We will close them down, shut them down by June 22.

“That is the clear message we want to send to Lynas management, get yourselves ready and get out before we get in,” he told reporters here.

When pressed for details on how the activists plan to stop the Lynas refinery from operating, Wong declined to provide more information but indicated that they would be blocking access to the plant.

“The material will not be able to go in, the product will not be able to go in, the people will not be able to come out,” he said.

But he also stressed that the move to close down the plant will be done “in the most peaceful way” without anyone getting “hurt”, saying that past events by the group had always been carried out peacefully.

According to Wong, representatives from environmental activist group Greenpeace, leaders from the political parties such as PKR’s Chua Tian Chang and PAS’s Mohamad Sabu are expected to join in this Sunday’s noon event.

Local activists such as polls reform group Bersih 2.0’s chief Maria Chin Abdullah and national poet A. Samad Said will also be present, Wong said.

Two Australian activists ― Tully McIntyre and Natalie Lowrey ― campaigning against Lynas’ operations in Malaysia arrived here recently and will be joining in Himpunan Hijau’s efforts.

“Lynas Corporation, along with the Australian and Malaysian governments, to take full responsibility in cleaning up the waste at the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant if it is shut down,” she said.

McIntyre, the spokesman for Stop Lynas Inc, pointed out that the share prices of the listed company had fallen to the current level of A$0.13 (RM0.39).

Unconvinced by the company’s repeated assurances that its plant does not pose any safety and health hazards, activists highlight that the RM2.5 billion plant  produces waste which includes radioactive element.

In September 2012, Malaysia’s Atomic Energy Licensing Board granted Lynas (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd a temporary operating licence, which came with several conditions. The board’s  director-general at the time,Raja Datuk Abdul Aziz Raja Adnan said the licence would be for a two-year period ending on September 2, 2014.

Last December, the board said Lynas  submitted last July the results of its research on recycling its waste for commercial purposes, but added that further study was required.

The board confirmed that it approved the firm’s plans for a permanent disposal facility as it had met the necessary requirements, but added there was no need yet to identify a site for the facility

The board also said then that it was monitoring the operations of the Lynas plant “round the clock”, stating that it found the radiation levels onsite and offsite the plant to be within regulatory limits and that its operations were “safe and under control”.

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