Seven reasons why Lynas shouldn’t be granted a permanent operating licence


Kuantan-born Phua Kai Lit, a public health professor, shares with us why Lynas Corp should not be granted an extension to its temporary operating licence for its rare earth refinery in Gebeng (full article below):

There has been much public and professional (public health experts) discussion about the threat posed by the Lynas rare earth metals extraction plant in Kuantan. These include threats – based on the documented bad experience in Baotou, China – to the health of the people of Kuantan and surrounding areas, and threats to the environment.

We should also look at some ethical reasons why the factory should not be granted an extension of its TOL (Temporary Operating License, due for expiry in September 2014) or be given a POL (Permanent Operating License).

1. The Lynas factory has failed to fulfil many important conditions and recommendations

The Lynas plant was granted a “temporary” operating licence (valid for TWO YEARS) by the Malaysian authorities although it had not carried out a Detailed Environmental Impact Assessment (DEIA) and a Health Impact Assessment (HIA).

Lynas Corporation, the company that owns the factory (called Lynas Advanced Materials Plant or LAMP) has no long term waste management plan in hand. The wastes include radioactive material such as thorium and uranium and the products of their decay.

No permanent disposal facility (PDF) has been built to store the wastes. The building of such a facility had been recommended by a panel of experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency.

No plan for eventual decommissioning of the factory exists. Such a plan was another recommendation of the IAEA team of experts.

2. Kuantan residents were not informed beforehand and had no say in the approval of the project

Local residents oppose the project partly because they were not informed about the project beforehand. The principle of “participatory justice”, i.e. the right to take part in collective decisions that affect one’s interests, has been violated here.

3. Overall costs and benefits – who benefits and who pays?

Supporters of the factory have argued that the technological spin-offs may be great.
This is a debatable claim as the factory does nothing more than extract rare earth metals from ore imported from Western Australia. Important questions include who will enjoy the benefits and who will pay the costs (direct as well as indirect costs), the distribution of costs and benefits across social groups and across the two countries (Malaysia and Australia), benefits arising now versus benefits arising later and so on.

The fact that the plant is foreign-owned and that it has been granted a 12-year tax holiday has led environmentalists and Kuantan residents to believe that Malaysians are getting the raw end of the deal, especially in terms of having to bear health and environmental costs that will arise from the toxic wastes that will be generated.

It appears that the Malaysian authorities have not learnt from the bad experience with the earlier and much smaller Asian Rare Earth factory. This factory operated from 1982 to 1994 in spite of protests from residents of Bukit Merah and nearby communities. Critics argue that there is a link between the waste produced by the factory and birth defects in newborn babies. Furthermore, eight cases of leukemia occurred over 5 years amongst a population of only 11,000 people. The work to decontaminate the area is still going on and it is estimated to cost RM300 million eventually!

4. Violation of the Proximity Principle

The Proximity Principle, i.e. disposal of dangerous waste should be as near to its place of origin as possible is violated by the “temporary storage” of wastes onsite in Malaysia. It should be remembered that the ore comes from Western Australia but the wastes generated will not be shipped back there.

5. Economic harm and psychological harm

Besides harm to the health of the people and damage to the environment, other harm that can occur include economic harm and psychological harm. There may be economic harm caused to people employed in the fishing industry and the tourist industry as toxic wastes accumulate in the environment. Psychological harm refers to any negative impact on the mental health of nearby residents, e.g. stress, worry etc. Future generations yet unborn would have to bear the environmental burden caused by radioactive wastes such as uranium and thorium that take an extremely long time to decay to much less harmful forms.

6. Externalities (damage caused to other people due to the actions of a particular individual or organisation)

The project may also generate “externalities” for neighboring countries in the form of significant pollution of the South China Sea. A vast amount of wastes will be produced and discharged into it over the long term. Possible health threats to residents of countries adjoining the South China Sea include airborne fine particulate wastes, lead contamination (since wastewater from cerium production will contain this material) and contamination – radioactive as well as non-radioactive – of seafood caught in the South China Sea. Other questions to be pondered include the possibility of significant damage to mangrove swamps, damage to coral and the possibility of eutrophication (algae blooms leading to oxygen depletion and death of sea life).

7. No clear mechanisms for compensation to individuals negatively affected

If the health and welfare of residents are negatively affected, would they be adequately compensated? Another question is: compensation by whom? Will the funds paid by Lynas to the Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB – the main Malaysian government organisation regulating the project) be used to compensate those hurt by the project?

Phua Kai Lit, PhD was born in Kuantan and lived there until the age of 18. He is a public health professor.

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alan handford (@alanhandford1)

this pol is a lie and a big scam it completly lacks truth and factys and seems too concentrate on lies and fear what a joke if this pathetic joker wanted to evaluate the complete story and write and unbiased truth based on facts ,wouldnt he at least go to the lynas rare earths materials plant so he could learn the real story instead of assuming and making it up to suit his own twisted lies wow what a dribbler this joker is surely nobody who looks for truth and facts would give him any credibility


Oi !, All those Lynas supporters, go and camp at site for a month, enjoy the air please and then come back to this blog for an engaging and intelligent discussion again.! The people there are suffering and you on the ivory tower advocating the good of Lynas?? Please produce all the key stats on Lynas before even considering anything. Yeo Bee Lin, if WA doesn’t want it back, it just mean one thing.

kacey smith

Kuantan-born Phua Kai Lit…a unqualified person who is posting unqualified content. so…this ist what a unqualified web needs.


Looi has been trolling and shilling other internet forum with his pro-Lynas arguments.
Sad to see became the latest victim.
Lynas is happy with such publicity.

Neutral Voice

It was disturbing to hear something like this from @kee:

“Ya, some unknown from nowhere suddenly appeared to hijack”

Is a private space?

Is comment section only opens to donor like @kee?

@anil should make it clear to all of us including all these first timers commented in the comment section.


Ya, some unknown from nowhere suddenly appeared to hijack !!! Some love to fool and some love being fooled, but the majority readers in anil’s blog cant be fooled. Keep spinning the safety of toxic waste by plucking the in4 from some so called “reliable” source and give some statistics to look good but please be rest assured your descendants will reap the EVIL planted by their forefather. Ps The whole of bukit merah has now turned into a resort??? This is exactly the case of writing about toxic waste in their mansion, no matter how many acres your… Read more »


No point quoting IAEA on safety. One way or another, they have been justifying nuclear. There are no permanent storage sites for the waste anywhere, except in Norway that has abandoned nuclear.
Every processing and generating plant and mine is allowed to operate on the assumption that someone in the future will resolve the problems of radiation. We are speaking of immense time scales where no human may even understand the warning signboards at such sites – assuming they survive. Fukushima disaster is certainly not over, despite the propaganda. This is collective insanity, just like the denial of climate change.


♥ Quote Kleesant: ” No point quoting IAEA on safety… This is collective insanity,..”. Unquote. Comment: IAEA is the foremost world authority on radioactivity and it has some of the brightest and best brains in the world. So would you rather believe in the advice of IAEA OR: Would you rather believe someone like the RADIATION KNOW-NOTHING OIL PALM FARMER TURNED POLITICIAN ! If you want the oil palm farmer turned politician to advise you on radiation THEN I HAVE NOTHING MORE TO SAY EXCEPT TO CURSE OUR EDUCATION SYSTEM FOR PRODUCING SO MANY UNTHINKING MINDS ! If this is… Read more »


If Lynas operation is safe, why the stock is diving ? May be they hav paid too much to social media propaganda (eg so called scientific figures & data ?) at the expense of investors(?)

Better to grow grapes in Kuantan at least the public can benefit eating them ?

cuba fikir fikir ?


Quote Henson: ” If Lynas operation is safe, why the stock is diving ?” Unquote.


Another case of the use of syllogism (silly logic) !

What is the relationship between whether a plant is safe to the environment or to the people and the share price ?

In fact it is the unsafe unscrupulous plants that cut corners in their operations that will be the most profitable and hence the highest share value !


Looih ; Earlier I was in fact trying to say what you have said. Yes real silly was also what I am going to say


share is diving because it’s not safe to put money there as panic sale after closure ==> 8th reason why it should not operate there.


Ha ha ha!
‘Professor Looi’ has highjacked

josie fernandez

An injury to one is an injury to all…an American labour saying .

Thanks Kai Lit for all your efforts .


♥ Quote Kee “Go to bukit merah and see first hand how the residents suffer because of this toxic waste..” Unquote. COMMENT: IS THERE REALLY A TRAGEDY IN BUKIT MERAH ? We have to realise that the feedstock used in the Bukit Merah plant is Monazite ore in Amang or tin tailings. And the monazite ore has an activity of well over 284 Bq/g or 4,700% more radioactive than that of Lynas’s WLP or ore concentrate.. In spite of the fact that the Bukit Merah waste’s radioactivity is thousands of times higher than that of Lynas, there is not a… Read more »


Loo, check with ntv 7 or 8 re bukit merah, i saw it years ago. Tq ! If you are sincere and a person of integrity and you believe what you said, you should make a trip to bukit merah and see for yourself with your own eyes the lives of the residents there and how they suffer… You serve no humanity by living in your acres of land and inside a big mansion comfortably typing away all your so called scientific thesis while the people living in the areas near the toxic waste are suffering daily… in that case… Read more »


You see a clip or 2 of tv, he give you a list of facts and figures.
What can we say of you ….. ignorant


♥ Quote Kee: ” ..Loo, check with ntv 7 or 8 re bukit merah, i saw it years ago… see for yourself with your own eyes the lives of the residents there and how they suffer…” Unquote Comment: I think you have a distorted perception of the whole picture. As you have said you saw the run down state of Bukit Merah years ago in a video. Every thing have changed and a great deal of development has taken place in the area. If you are to go to Bukit Merah now, especially to the Bukit Merah lakeside resort, you… Read more »


Yes looi and I did bought one apartment very cheap sometime ago and use that for holiday.


Slightly off topic but somewhat relevant. Who is caring or uncaring whether for the people, rakyat or environment. Penang botak hill, middle bank, tunnel and Tg Tokong are a few example for you to see. Now I want the smart guys to see because we are always considered as bodoh. Selangor is one good example of manipulation at its highest with money and resources wasted in a by election. Read below another good example If DAP can so easily turn its back on a loyal employee of one of its stalwarts, can we expect a caring government if it succeeds… Read more »


However 100% safe according to your ‘scientific argument’ also serve no purpose.
Just look at the Bhopal and Chernobyl incident.
Why take chances on human error that could be catastrophe in the case of Lynas?
Enforcement is always questionable too.


♥ Quote Don: “100% safe according to your ‘scientific argument’ also serve no purpose. Just look at the Bhopal and Chernobyl incident. Why take chances on human error that could be catastrophe in the case of Lynas?” Unquote. COMMENT: AND AS FAR AS THE 100% BUSINESS IS CONCERNED, THE ONLY THING IN LIFE WHICH WE CAN BE A 100% SURE OF IS THE CEMETERY AND THE LAVATORY. IF WE HAVE TO GO, WE HAVE TO GO 100%. The chance of dying one day is 100%. So do not worry yourself to death about it! Dying from heart disease — 1… Read more »


1. The Lynas factory has failed to fulfil many important conditions and recommendations The company has fulfilled local and international standard. 2. Kuantan residents were not informed beforehand and had no say in the approval of the project. I will talk like the CAT. Before last GE Lynas has already been given the temporary license to operate and the people continue to give the mandate to BN which means that it is endorsed by the people. 3. Overall costs and benefits – who benefits and who pays? Both sides benefits through jobs created and saving of foreign exchange. Compared to… Read more »

Phua Kai Lit

This will be my FINAL comment with regards to this article (as a “public intellectual”, i.e. a concerned academician who seeks to influence public policy for the good of society, and to bring to the attention of ordinary citizens the harm done by the powers that be). 1. As far as I know, I actually exist and “Phua Kai Lit” is my real name. I have not changed my name yet ! 2. Quantity (of comments) is not the same as quality. 3. Those who have taken the Hippocratic Oath should remember what they pledged to uphold in the past… Read more »


Ya, phua, no point engaging with fools, let them be…

I saw a taiwan documentary and it showed how this taiwan lady was badly affected by the toxic waste, and as a result of which her life was made paralysed… she lost her job too…

Go to bukit merah and see first hand how the residents suffer because of this toxic waste… Ya, they are not your loved ones and you live quite a distance from this toxic areas, who cares, such is human ugliness !!! Shame !!!


At least Phua rebut back with his reasons and logic but the smart as can only rebut back with you are bodoh, nothing else.


Should ask these unbelievers to dwell within the area surrounding Lynas plant. I would bet my money that none would. Maybe they could blame LGE & CAT for the issue.


Quote the Hon. Prof Phua: “… This will be my FINAL comment.. If some people actually believe some of the claims they make regarding the safety of Lynas wastes, I can only say “Oh my!” Unquote. COMMENT: Why don’t the Hon. Prof write to these renown scientists and journalists like Prof David Bradley of the University of Oxford, Nick Tsurikov, Christoph Wilhelm, Prof Wade Allison of Oxford, Jack Lifton, a world authority on Rare Earth, Richard Martin etc. who claimed or implied that Lynas is safe and tell them…….”OH MY” ! And by the way, he should also tell the… Read more »

neutral voice

What a bad manner @anil to scold your readers? Isn’t the comment section for us to exchange opinions? I can’t see you refute a single point raised by lynas supporters. Instead of labeled your readers as trolls etc, why not let the fact talks! Show us scientific evidence and not some unknown local professor. Even I doubt the identity of the so called Phua Kai lit. Which university does he come from? What are his published works related to lynas issue? Mind you @anil, Phua Kai Lit is not a neutral commentator. His long history of anti-BN stance, speaks a… Read more »

Chuko Chor Chor

lynas is a small matter because of 99.9999% safety record. Malaysia should aim for using nuclear power plants

We are to disagree right, @anil ? Why the hostility towards your readers?

Phua Kai Lit

1. Yes.

2. And Lynas is in dire financial straits too.
A new CEO with a marketing background (I was so informed)
would probably not be able to save it.

Neil Armstrong Prince

Typical 3rd world mentality clearly demonstrated in Phua Kai Lit piece of propaganda. How come lynas got all approval including the local and international bodies.

I fear when pr win the election, they will ban electricity, airlines and all modern stuff like smartphone, internet, and so on.

Banana R

kee, show us evidence that lynas is harmful.


Living next to Lynas or not is immaterial. One need not have to live next door to (someone) to know whether one will be affected by the gay syndrome or to live in Penang to be affected by the cosmopolitan high price congested pigeon hole disease syndrome


Phua, thanks very much for sharing.

I hope it opens the many eyes of the blind who have been blinded by the govt of the day …

Loo..88, please move your family to live next to the plant otherwise please dont s… here, no one will believe you…


* Quote Kee: “..please move your family to live next to the plant otherwise please dont s… here, no one will believe you…” Unquote Answer: I now live in a bungalow house with 2 acres of garden in Kuantan. So if anybody is kind enough to buy and pay for me a 2 acre plot of free hold land next to the Lynas plant and pay for the construction of a house of my own design, I WILL GLADLY MOVE MY WHOLE FAMILY TO LIVE IN THIS NEW HOUSE NEXT TO LYNAS….. just like Christoph Wilhelm, the scientist in charge… Read more »

Banana R

Anil, I doubt anything written by Phua Kai Lit. Especially his writing style just like being prepaid by some fanatic politician. No data, no reference, no quotes, just empty rhetoric like election manifesto.

Banana R


Pls be careful with this looihw88 guy. He is pro-Lynas and (could be) engaged by Lynas to swamp blog discussing Lynas with his arguments. He claimed to be an expert but I doubt so.


Sorry, I do not work for lynas or the government.



So why would the advanced nations like Korea and Japan alike cutting back on the consumption of fisheries around the region if radioactivity is safe?


He come with facts and figure and explanation. Phua come with rhetoric


🙂 😉 Quote stteh: ” So why would the advanced nations like Korea and Japan alike cutting back on the consumption of fisheries around the region if radioactivity is safe? COMMENT: If advanced countries like Korea and Japan reduce the consumption of seafood, it does not mean that radioactivity is not safe. Whether radioactivity is safe or not is NOT dependant on the (rational or irrational) behaviour of people in the advanced countries. It depends on the level of radioactivity in the seafood itself. Seafood, like all living things, is radioactive because of its content of potassium-40 and other trace… Read more »



Thanks for all the datas you gave, are they meant to divert the people’s attention on the issue ? All the details you gave do not mean anything to the people living nearby the plant.
And above all just answer me why aren’t the Australians allow Lynas to be built in their own back yards, or is it because Australia cannot find enough space to have Lynas built in Australia ? Please stop trying to divert the attention of the issue with all your details.


COMMENT: It is not true to say that Australia does not allow Lynas to build the plant in Australia. AS STATED BY NORMAN FREDERICK MOORE, THE AUSTRALIAN MINISTER FOR MINES AND PETROLEUM, IF LYNAS HAVE CHOSEN TO OPERATE IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA, IT WOULD BE WELCOMED WITH OPEN ARMS ! A number of other countries have built or are planning to build these rare earth elements (REE) plants. Unfortunately some has been shelved or terminated because of the drop in REE price and was found to be uneconomical. New Rare Earth Plants and Mines 1. Arafura in Whayalla Australia 2. Great… Read more »


😉 ♥ Quote: “All the details you gave do not mean anything to the people living nearby the plant.” Unquote. Comment: Most of the people living near the Industrial park where Lynas is located are Malay Kampung folks and they have no problem with the plant. I myself live quite close to the plant and feels pefectly comfortable with it. Note: ♥ THE ANNUAL DOSE RATE EXPOSURE ● 1. FROM MALAYSIAN CLAY BRICK HOUSE = 0.43 mSv/year (215 x Lynas Worst Case Scenario) ● 2. SLEEPING IN WOODEN HOUSE = 0.20 mSv/yr (100x Lynas worst case Scenario) ● 3. SLAG… Read more »

R. Richardson

“Please stop trying to divert the attention of the issue with all your details.” What wonderful logic: don’t confuse me with facts, because I can’t deal with scientific facts and I think the title “professor” of the supposed author of the article is obviously more important than the outright lies that he publishes – presumably for local political purposes that have nothing at all to do with a gravel processing plant that is almost certainly environmentally much cleaner than ALL the other oil and chemical plants on the Gebung Estate!