Campaign to shut down Australian toxic dumper Lynas
DAY 3 (June 18, 2014): As Tully and I prepared to take part in a press conference in Kuala Lumpur, Wong Tack reports on the road to Kuantan:
“Our comrades from the Beautiful Gate Foundation for the Disabled (Kepong) has arrived to walk in solidarity with Isaiah. They joined the walk for two hours.
“Tengku Zulpuri Shah, ADUN (Pahang state assembly member for) Mentakab and Ketua Pembangkang DUN (opposition leader in the state assembly of) Pahang, not only walked with Isaiah but also offered his home to Isaiah for the night.”
Isaiah’s heroic and painful retracing of the 300 km walk from KL to Kuantan which anti-Lynas activists previously did in November 2013, is inspiring many. Some have even described him as a modern “bodhisattva” – a traditional Buddhist term for someone who takes the path of enlightenment.
Later in KL we took part in a press conference together with Wong Tack from HH, opposition MP Fuziah Salleh (from the Keadilan party – PKR), Zulkefly Mohd Omar from the Islamic Party (PAS) and S. Arulchelvan (Arul) from the Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM).
Tully and I had prepared statements. In my statement I said:
“My name is Natalie Lowrey, I am an International mining campaigner that has been working with various organisations, community groups, and Indigenous communities in Australia and Internationally for over a decade.
“I was originally drawn to the struggle against Lynas Corporation in Malaysia when a close friend, who had grown up in Kuantan, called me in distress about an Australian rare earth miner who had been given the green light to build and operate the worlds largest rare earth refinery very close to her hometown. I never imagined that as a result of Lynas corporate impunity the largest environmental campaign in Malaysian history would evolve over the past 3 years.
“As my colleague Tully has stated we stand by the thousands of Malaysians that oppose Lynas toxic and polluting plant. We represent politicians, academics, scientists, environmentalists, health professionals and concerned citizens in Australia who are appalled by an Australian company that is dumping its highly toxic and radioactive waste on Malaysians.
“We believe Malaysians lives are just as valuable as Australians.
“Lynas did not produce a comprehensive environmental impact assessment and is yet to produce a permanent waste plan for the radioactive waste produced at the LAMP, yet they were given a green light and a 12-year tax holiday to operate in Malaysia. Despite this Lynas shares continue to plummet and shareholders continue to be angered by their lies and disinformation.
“But who is going to be responsible to clean up Lynas mess in Malaysia if the financial crisis they are currently facing means they fold and have to shut their plant down?
“Future generations in Malaysia depend on the continuing solidarity between Australians and Malaysians, to call into account, not only Lynas Corporation, but both the Australian and Malaysian governments for allowing such a toxic development to be approved.”
In her statement, Tully said:
“My name is Tully McIntyre I have been a mining activist in Australia on uranium and rare earths issues for the past 4 years. I am a spokesperson and representative of the Stop Lynas campaign in Australia.
“As part of the Stop Lynas campaign in Australia we have focused on the issues of rare earth processing, the waste produced and the disastrous affects it can have on human heath, water systems and agricultural lands.
“We are extremely concerned about Lynas Corporation and their operations in Malaysia. Lynas continues their deceptive marketing campaign to promote a perfectly safe rare earth refinery that is so called ‘zero harm’ and ‘zero waste’. No rare earth refinery in the world promotes such clean operations or would deny the risks associated with the mining and refining of rare earths.
“On Monday this week myself and my colleague Natalie Lowrey visited the Lynas Advanced Material Plant (LAMP) in Kuantan. On arrival we were approached by employees asking what we were doing at the plant. We requested to have a tour of the refinery. The staff we spoke to refused to provide contact details of whom we could talk to, instead we were asked continually to leave for no given reason. One worker stated the plant was very safe, as he pointed to his steel cap boots, safety goggles and hard hat, which is compulsory on every work site in Australia and should be throughout the world.
“A serious concern with rare earth processing and refining are the radioactive substances and major toxic materials released in to the environment. Radioactive materials in particular cannot be seen, touched or smelt. Lynas still hasn’t produced a permanent waste plan for its radioactive waste.
“We have traveled from Australia to Malaysia to hear first hand from the people living in close proximity to the Lynas plant and to broader community concerns about the worlds largest rare earth processing plant. Lynas never had the decency to consult and/or get consent from the communities that will be directly affected by their operation.”
We also shared our demands:
- Lynas Corporation to shut their rare earth refinery in Gebeng, clean up all of its waste and leave Malaysia.
- 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, whether the shut down is caused through public pressure, legal and/or political will, environmental disaster or due to Lynas Corporation’s continuing financial downfall and risk of insolvency.
- The Australian Government to adhere to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal. This includes controlling and reducing international movements of hazardous waste and ensuring environmentally sound management of wastes. As a world citizen it is Australia’s responsibility to abide by such international agreements.
- The Australian Government to implement policies around the mining and processing of rare earths and for all and any future rare earths mined in Australia to be processed in country according to ‘worlds-best-practice’.
We will continue to challenge the Australian government and big indutry’s ‘business as usual’ moto of the mining and processing of rare earths, particularly for the development and production of “green technologies”.
We are also advocating for more research and policy development around rare earths and urban mining, especially the reduction, reuse and recycling of minerals and metals including rare earths mined in Australia.