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by fathilullail
on 9/7/12
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Press statement of Save Malaysia Stop #Lynas (SMSL)
Academy of Sciences Malaysia – in Whose interest?
July 9, 2012

Recently, the Academy of Sciences Malaysia (ASM) chief executive officer Dr Ahmad Ibrahim has made several public statements supporting the Lynas rare earth plant in Gebeng. It is unusual for an academic body to lend its name to a commercial project.

Mr Tan Bun Teet, the spokeseperson for SMSL commented,
“The French Rhodia plant in La Rochelle cannot be compared with the Lynas refinery in Gebeng because Rhodia plant has stopped using rare earth materials containing thorium whereas the LAMP uses raw ore concentrate containing both thorium and uranium which are radioactive. “

SMSL has provided a list of differences between Rhodia’s plant and the LAMP at the bottom of this press statement.

Is Dr Ibrahim not concerned that the Malaysian public might be misled by the highly publicised comparison as cited by the Government’s news agency Bernama?

In the eyes of many concerned Malaysians the Lynas rare earth project is a foreign owned hazardous project that will not only pay NO tax, but will leave massive amount of radioactive and hazardous waste that risks contaminating our land, our water and our air.

Dr Ahmad Ibrahim was quoted by Radio 24 at Wisma Bernama that: “Thorium-232 is considered to be a carcinogen only if administered intravenously as a colloidal dispersion of thorium 232 dioxides.”
Ironically Rhodia was forced to switch to rare earths that do not contain radioactive materials precisely because of restrictions placed by the French Government on its thorium waste. See details below for reference.

“Is Dr Ibrahim not concerned that by lending his name and that of the ASM, his ethical standard and professional integrity as well as the independence of the ASM as a professional body for our country’s scientific community will be questioned?” Mr Tan queried.

In the interest of the Malaysian public, SMSL would like to know who are the ASM's funders or financial contributors.
“Has the ASM receive any grant or donation from the Lynas Corporation, Lynas Malaysia or any of its industries downstream? If so, it is crucial that the ASM disclose details of its financial relationship so that the public is clear in whose interest the ASM is representing.” Concluded Mr Tan.

FACTS
On the French Rhodia’s Rochelle Rare Earth Plant
The Academy of Sciences Malaysia (ASM) chief executive officer Dr Ahmad Ibrahim has equated the Lynas rare earth refinery in Gebeng to French corporation Rhodia’s plant in a tourist town of La Rochelle (see http://www.bernama.com/bernama/v6/newsgeneral.php?id=677961). What Dr Ibrahim has failed to reveal were as follows:
Facts: Rhodia’s La Rochelle plant was forced to utilise radioactive-free rare earth due to a restrictions of the disposal of thorium waste.
The La Rochelle plant originally utilized monazite and xenotime from Australia and the United States.
Source: http://books.google.com.my/books?id=zNicdkuulE4C&pg=PA788&lpg=PA788&dq=rhodia+la+rochelle+monazite+and+xenotime+from+Australia+and+the+United+States&source=bl&ots=Nir9y-B4xc&sig=-SUWAOwNCxc9_3v568fCpIUDHzA&hl=en&sa=X&ei=c6X2T_GTOtHhrAeU8PXbBg&ved=0CGEQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=rhodia%20la%20rochelle%20monazite%20and%20xenotime%20from%20Australia%20and%20the%20United%20States&f=false
p.787 : “Originally, it utilized monazite and xenotime from Australia and the United States, however, restrictions on the disposal of thorium waste forced Rhodia to shift to intermediate REE thorium-free compounds, including rare earth chlorides an nitrates.”
p. 788 : “The company’s La Rochelle, France plant is now the world’s only significant REEs separation plant outside of China, and it imports most of its REEs as carbonates, chlorides, and nitrates from China (Chegwidden and Kingsnorth 2002)”
Source: http://www.raremetalblog.com/2011/12/thorium-rare-earths-two-sectors-that-should-befriend-each-other.html
A few decades ago, when Molycorp and Solvay’s Rhodia (then known as Rhone-Poulenc) were providing the bulk of the REEs to the marketplace, Rhône-Poulenc received all of its REEs from beach sands in Australia and South Africa.
“It transported the monazite sands to France and eventually compiled an unusual quantity of thorium. The French government forbade the company from continuing this, so it switched over to bastnasite and left the monazite. The physical and chemical processing of monazite is well-known and can be handled, but the problem is what to do with the thorium after it is extracted,”

The La Rochelle plant now sourced radioactive-free rare earth through recycling batteries.
Source: http://www.batteryrecycling.org.au/recycling-rare-earth-metals-from-batteries

In 2010, Rhodia signed a 10-year contract with Lynas to purchase its rare earth oxides from the Malaysian plant which is radioactive-free since the radioactive materials will be removed and be LEFT IN MALAYSIA!
Source: Lynas Extends Rare Earths Supply Contract and Signs a Technical Co-operation Agreement with Rhodia http://www.24hgold.com/english/news-company-gold-silver-extends-its-rare-earths-supply-contract-with-rhodia.aspx?articleid=533109

Rhodia has a separation plant in Liyang in China. It may not have any thorium tailings in its waste stream because the leaching may have been done in Baotou or by other suppliers as the environmental enforcement requirement was mainly focusing on chemical and other pollutants.
Source (in Mandarin) : http://www.verylib.com/QiKan/95612K/200101/10625936.htm
Rhodia’s rare earth refining track record has not been entirely clean. In 2004, its Liyang plant in China was found to have caused some fish to die from unacceptable pH (indicator of acidity and alkalinity) and COD (Chemical Oxygen Demand which measures the toxicity of chemical pollution) levels from its waste discharge:
Source (in mandarin) http://www.ipe.org.cn/pollution/com_detail.aspx?id=573202
In 2008, Rhodia’s Liyang plant again was found to have caused pollution through its waste water discharge from inadequate treatment – its COD was found to have exceeded the limit by 6.9 times with the phosphate concentration measured at 0.628 mg/L.
Source (in Mandarin) : http://www.ipe.org.cn/pollution/com_detail.aspx?id=646002
“2008 - 溧阳市罗地亚稀土新材料有限公司,清污分流不彻底,总排口废水COD超标6.9倍。 溧阳罗地亚稀土新材料有限公司超标排放污水:总磷0.628mg/L “
On the Risk and Hazard of Thorium
Dr Ahmad Ibrahim was quoted by Radio 24 at Wisma Bernama that: “Thorium-232 is considered to be a carcinogen only if administered intravenously as a colloidal dispersion of thorium 232 dioxides.”
Fact: It is not thorium per se but its decay chain, including the thoron (Ra-222) and other radioactive decay products in the chain that causes the radioactive problems and accounts for the radiation dose. Thorium’s extremely long half-life of 14 billion years meant that it is hazardous forever.
Lynas is fully aware of that; it was acknowledged in their radioactive waste management plan (RWMP). Thorium on its own is not that hazardous (externally) because it decays very slowly - but that situation is just fantasy because thorium cannot exist on its own; it is in secular equilibrium with all its decay products. The same applies to uranium – it is the radon gas and polonium that causes hazards for miners and other workers, not the uranium itself. That is predominantly why thorium is carcinogenic.

For further comments:
Mr Tan Bun Teet, spokesperson for SMSL, Hp: +60 17 973 0576