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Australian rare earths processing company Lynas is rebuked by Malaysian environmental and consumer groups

Lynas is being unscientific, not SAM or CAP  https://www.malaysiakini.com/letters/471173  SM Mohamed Idris   6 Apr 2019 Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) and the Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) refer to the letter by Lynas Malaysia reported in Malaysiakini on 5 April 2019, which says that our recent statements about the plant’s wastes are “false and ignore scientific fact.”

The controversy is over the definition of wastes from the Lynas’ water leach purification (WLP) process, which contains thorium and uranium.

Lynas claims that the wastes are naturally-occurring radioactive material (called NORM), while we claim that the wastes are not naturally-occurring, but have been technologically-enhanced and should be called technologically-enhanced naturally-occurring radioactive material known as TENORM.

Citing “two eminent scientists”, Lynas states as fact that “the small amount of thorium and uranium in the WLP generated are not man-made but naturally occurring radionuclides found in soil, water and in food.”

Lynas is clearly distorting the facts.

First of all, the thorium and uranium containing wastes generated by Lynas are not found to naturally occur in the Gebeng area, where the plant is located. On the contrary, the raw material which is processed by the Lynas plant is lanthanide concentrate that contains the thorium, uranium and the rare-earth.

This raw material is processed and imported from the Mount Weld mine in Australia and is brought to Malaysia. It is then subject to further processing in Gebeng by Lynas.

Therefore, how can it be said that say that the thorium and uranium are naturally occurring in the soil, water and in food when they were not there before in the Gebeng area, if not for the Lynas operations?

Moreover, what is even more significant is that we are talking about the generation of an accumulated amount of more than 450,000 metric tonnes of radioactive wastes from the Lynas operations thus far. To call this naturally-occurring radioactive material is indeed unscientific.

Secondly, the wastes that Lynas has generated from the WLP process clearly falls within the definition of TENORM, as defined by the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) as: “Naturally occurring radioactive materials that have been concentrated or exposed to the accessible environment as a result of human activities such as manufacturing, mineral extraction, or water processing.”

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April 9, 2019 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA, Malaysia, RARE EARTHS

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