Greens call on Lynas to come clean about controversial refinery
Malaysian press* is reporting severe and unreasonable restrictions on public access to documents relating to Lynas Corporation's controversial rare earth refinery, sparking an outcry from locals.
Australian Greens Senator Scott Ludlam and Greens WA MLC Robin Chapple have written to Western Australian rare earths miner Lynas Corporation and the Malaysian Government requesting copies of its application documents so that they can be properly distributed.
"The Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry in Malaysia recently announced Lynas had applied for a temporary operational licence for its refinery in Pahang and claimed they would display the application documents for public feedback before reaching their decision. However, unreasonable restrictions are reported to have been placed on public viewing of the documents," said Senator Ludlam.
"It has been reported in the Malaysian press that only one person was allowed to view the 300+ page document at a time for a maximum of one hour. If the public can view the document for a 14 day period, in an office open seven hours a day, but only one person at a time for a maximum of one hour, you essentially have a smoke and mirrors public consultation process in place. There are four places at which the document can be observed, but it is being alleged that it can't be copied or taken away."
"The company - and the Government of Malaysia - should provide an electronic copy online for people to download, at the very least, if they're not prepared to print and distribute hard copies," said Mr Chapple. "There's absolutely no reason why this can't be done."
Senator Ludlam and Mr Chapple MLC have written to the Director General of the Atomic Energy Licensing Board and the Executive Chairman of Lynas Corporation in Sydney asking for clarification on the availability of the documents and requesting copies.
The rare earth refinery being built in Pahang is now said to be more than 85 per cent complete and expected to fully operational by early 2012. Lynas plans to process the rare earths mined from Western Australia at the facility. Public protests by locals and environmental groups over the possible radioactive hazard posed by the plant put brakes on the plans last year, and prompted a review by a panel of experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency, who instructed Lynas to provide a better long-term waste management plan.