IT’S been more than two years since The New York Times first broke the story on the construction of the Lynas rare earth refinery in Malaysia. Groups like Himpunan Hijau and Save Malaysia Stop Lynas have since organised several rallies and even taken the government and company to court. In response to public uproar, the Malaysian government invited international experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency in 2011 and set up a parliamentary select committee in 2012 to review the plant.
After many road bumps, Lynas Corp finally secured a temporary operating license and began operations in November 2012. The company is also monitoring radioactivity levels at Gebeng which it periodically publicises.
However, there are still many questions about what will happen to the low-level radioactive waste that the plant produces. How will the hazardous by-products of a rare earth refinery be dealt with? And how are the government and anti-Lynas groups responding to these developments?
Recycle? Ship abroad?
Lynas Corp is confident that it can recycle the low-level radioactive residue into commercial products. The company intends to dilute its radioactive water leach purification residue into road base material and recycle its neutralisation underflow residue into fertilisers.
But as The Wall Street Journal pointed out in an 11 Dec 2012 report, such technology has yet to be tested. Additionally, it remains to be seen whether Lynas can find buyers to make its recycling proposal commercially viable.
The Atomic Energy Licensing Board and the Department of Environment are also still reviewing the recycling proposal. And even if the proposal is approved, Science, Technology and Innovation Deputy Minister Datuk Dr Abu Bakar Mohamad Diah told Parliament on 19 July 2013 that “these products must leave the country”.
In other words, Lynas must find international buyers for its recycled products. And should the recycling plan fail, the waste must be shipped abroad. But where to?
Australia is unlikely to take back the waste. And one wonders which other country would willingly import such waste and risk its citizen’s ire? At this stage, I think we should be prepared for the worst-case scenario where the waste is stored locally.
Indeed, on 2 July 2013, the Australian company submitted its plan for a permanent disposal facility. However, Dr Abu Bakar has declared that Lynas has no plans to permanently store the waste in Malaysia but that international procedures require the building of a permanent disposal facility. In the meantime, ministers have refused to disclose the plan and the potential locations for such a facility, likely fearing more protests from communities in any of these locations.
The Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Dr Ewon Ebin said on 5 July 2013 that the government could not reveal identified locations as it was “not finalised”. Six days later, the Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili was reported to have said the government need not disclose the plan since Lynas might be able to recycle the waste.
What is apparent is that there is no guarantee Lynas will be able to recycle the waste or to ship it out. Indeed, it’s clear that no matter what our political leaders say publicly, the company in consultation with the government seems to have prepared a contingency plan for the waste to be stored in Malaysia permanently.
Learning from past mistakes
It appears that the government has yet to learn from its past mistakes. The Lynas controversy stemmed from the government’s foolish move to approve the construction of the rare earth refinery without public consultation. Most Malaysians were only aware of the plant after the The New York Times report. If the government wants to restore public confidence, it must be transparent in all its future dealings with Lynas and the public.
Even if the final location of the permanent disposal facility has yet to be determined, the government must guarantee that it will consult the relevant state governments and local communities before a location is finalised. The government must assure local communities that they will be treated and included as legitimate stakeholders when the time comes. This is especially so since there are real fears that the community’s livelihood and environment could be affected by a permanent disposal facility in their midst.
Compared to the government, Lynas Corp seems to be doing a better public relations job. On 10 July 2013, it dropped the defamation suit against Save Malaysia Stop Lynas. Apart from that, it’s clear Lynas has a business to run. Hence, it must manage its relationship with stakeholders carefully if it’s to continue running its business.
To keep public attention on Lynas, Himpunan Hijau is running a campaign to collect one million Malaysian signatures to shut down the plant. The petition will start on 24 Aug 2013 and the signatures will be presented to among others, Parliament and the financial institutions that back Lynas. Himpunan Hijau chairperson Wong Tack has also announced that the coalition might take to the streets again in October.
Meanwhile, Save Malaysia Stop Lynas lead campaigner Tan Bun Teet has vowed to continue its international campaign against Lynas. The group has also mobilised local residents to file for judicial reviews in an attempt to revoke Lynas’s temporary operating license. Clearly, the parliamentary select committee and the approval of international experts has not been sufficient to convince skeptics of Lynas’s safety.
What needs to happen next? The government needs to be honest with the public. How feasible is Lynas’s recycling plan? Should it fail, is it really possible for Lynas to ship the waste abroad? If no, will Lynas store the waste locally? Or will it close down the plant after the temporary operating license expires in September 2014?
These are legitimate questions that the public deserve answers to. Will they be forthcoming? Past experience suggests the answer will be “No”. And if past experience is anything to go by, then the government will have to brace itself for more protests and bad press over Lynas.
Gan Pei Ling is going abroad to pursue a one-year master’s degree on the environment. She hopes the government will sort out Lynas’s waste management plan before she returns in September 2014.
The government and Lynas have to be more transparent alright. And the anti-Lynas protesters should also do their part by relying less on rhetoric and fear mongering by implying that it’s some sort of nuclear reactor and instead, provide more solid science and data to back up their objections. And the opposition politicians should also do their part by not hijacking an environmental issue for political gain. Because doing so speaks of hypocrisy since Malaysia Smelting Corporation has a factory in Penang also importing radioactive metal ore from Australia and leaving radioactive waste in Malaysia [about] which they [have] said nothing.
Kong Kek Kuat says
Well, for someone who keeps claiming that he is rational and logical, you sure need to help Lynas rationalise the following:
1. Lynas, actually, it is you which needs to provide more solid science and data to back up your claims because the burden is on you to do so, not the anti-Lynas people. Remember: You are proposing, not the anti-Lynas band.
2. Lynas, notwithstanding that you know that the AELB may not have enough intellectual stock to see your proposal for what it is, if you can´t provide more solid science and data or are afraid that your science will be vulnerable to other scientific attacks, don´t expect us to, because hey — you´re the one coming here to Malaysia and proposing.
Oh, by the way TNG, where does MSC specifically store their waste, ah?
Kong Ket Kuat. These are some of the things the anti-Lynas [movement] said and which any student with Form 5 science can tell you is absolute nonsense. I quote…
1. Nicole Tan Lee Koon:
…the effect is as drastic as that (nuclear reactor), the radiation bit.
2. The supposed expert at German Oeko institute with 90 researchers commissioned by anti-Lynas:
….The WLP waste….would exceed by a factor of more than 1,000 above international accepted protection level.
FYI, IAEA said the international level is 1 bq/g and WLP is 6.2 bq/g.
Need I say more?
Kong Kek Kuat says
Hmm… yes you do need to say more [… in your] reply. Let´s see you stand up now and be counted as the rational and scientific TNG, shall we? Surely, if Form 5 science students can do what you say they can do, I´m sure you won´t disappoint us with your rational and scientific arguments, which I´m sure, many of us here are looking forward to reviewing.
I am more than happy to educate those who know absolutely nothing about radiation because I do not like innocent people being misled by irresponsible politicians.
The link below is just one of the many standard textbooks used by secondary school science students all over the world. Once you have read them, you will realise the claim by irresponsible politicians that Lynas’s radiation is as bad as a nuclear reactor’s is [a ploy] to gain votes. And I hope you are not one of those irresponsible politicians out to tell lies about Lynas’s radiation. If you are, shame on you.
In this textbook, it talks about background radiation and part of that comes from rocks. For your information, those radioactive rocks also happen to contain metal ore like tin or copper or iron or rare metal. Therefore, practically all metal mining activities (oil & gas industries have the same problem) will have radiation problems. Read the link from USA’s EPA on the radiation problem in mining activities.
Since all mining activities have a radiation problem, they all need a license from Malaysia’s Atomic Energy Licensing Board. And of course that includes the Malaysia Smelting Corporation factory in Penang which extracts tin and Lynas which extracts rare metal and coincidentally, both of them import metal ore from Australia. For reasons known only to DAP, they strongly oppose Lynas but said absolutely nothing about the MSC factory in Penang that also produces radioactive waste. If that is not a hypocrite, I don’t know what is.
I hope I have not disappointed you with these scientific facts. If you disagree with these scientific facts, then you will have to take it up with science teachers and professors worldwide because they will tell you what I have just told you.
Kong Kek Kuat says
[…] is that what you call science? Out of my league, then. That sounds more like basic information than science to me, and possibly all of us readers here on The Nut Graph. […]
And after so many sections of replies from you, having bought so much time, you still can´t find the answer as to where MSC “left their radioactive waste in Malaysia”, can you?
Kong Kek Kuat says
I insist on saying that TNG has never even touched lanthanum, or got anywhere near it, in his life. You may think, “Of course! Why would anyone touch a radioactive element?” Well, I know what I am talking about, because I “basically” come face-to-face with thorium and lanthanum anytime I want to, and touch them as and when I need them.
You just nailed the problem with many of these anti-Lynas people. They don’t even understand nor want to believe elementary science yet want to oppose something they know nothing of.
As for MSC waste, you have to go ask DAP. They seem happy with it being kept in Malaysia.
Kong Kek Kuat says
Eh, I thought you were the one who made allegations that “Malaysia Smelting Corporation has a factory in Penang also importing radioactive metal ore from Australia and leaving radioactive waste in Malaysia [about] which they [have] said nothing.” What has DAP got to do with it? Don´t tell me you were just trying to sound like you know, and now that you are challenged, you [ask] others to prove what you accuse is incorrect?
KKK. […] DAP is the state government of Penang. DAP is entrusted with the welfare and health of Penang people. The Malaysia Smelting Corporation factory in Penang imports radioactive tin ore from Australia and this waste is therefore radioactive. Can you tell us why DAP is so concerned about the health of Kuantan people but totally ignores the health of Penang people? Does DAP think the life of people in Penang is worth less than those in Kuantan so no need to say anything? In other words, shouldn’t the health of Penang people be [DAP’s] 1st priority and Kuantan’s 2nd?
To confirm what I said, you can go to the MSC website whereby it clearly says they import tin ore from Australia.
KKK. You perfectly illustrate the problem with the vast majority of the anti-Lynas crowd. Many simply oppose something which they have absolutely no idea of. Like you yourself said, many can’t even understand or trust in simple secondary school science, let alone something more advanced as nuclear science.
Because of their sheer ignorance, they are perfect prey to people with ulterior political motives. All these politicians need to do is spread the lies that Lynas is as bad as a nuclear reactor and many will voluntarily take to the street demonstrating against Lynas. IMO, what they are doing is like [leading] sheep to the slaughter.
And the really sad thing is, when some socially responsible scientists like Dr Looi comes along to expose those irresponsible lies, they get bashed as liars and BN cronies. From the looks of things, when it comes to matters concerning science and technology, Malaysians are going to the dog by putting their trust in liars and bomohs and people who know absolutely nothing about science. And worse still, lying politicians. And some of those Pakatan politicians who know better either keep quiet or were ordered by their party to keep quiet as in the case of PAS MP Dr Che Rosli (who happens to be a lecturer in nuclear science). FYI, Che Rosli said many of the things the anti-Lynas people said are “unscientific” and “talks about Lynas radiation pollution are nonsense”.
Kong Kek Kuat and TNG,
I agree with one point: the anti-Lynas activists can’t provide scientific numbers to counter the pro-Lynas group. We are all Malaysians concerned about our environment who have vocations. We don’t have the time to dig out papers and put forth numbers.
One example right in front of our own eyes is the Tanah Merah rare earth processing plant which was said to be safe. See what happened to the Tanah Merak folks.
But with the high prevalence in bribe-taking and low competency in Malaysia, I wouldn’t trust AELB to be able to check if Lynas will operate according to the highest safety standards. I have to repeat that Lynas’s stealthy way of sneaking in to build and operate doesn’t give us confidence to trust it to operate ethically.
The Dutch company which pulled out from supplying the resin coating for retention ponds built to temporarily store the waste didn’t instill confidence that LAMPS was built to the highest safety standard either.
I can’t give numbers and cite organisations but with issues surrounding the building of LAMPS and the lack of a waste disposal plan thus far, they don’t point to a SAFE LAMPS operation. Better be safe than sorry. When radioactive elements have polluted our land, sea and air, the social and health costs will be tremendous.
Correction… Bukit Merah, not Tanah Merah.
I will make another correction here, otherwise I will be accused of misleading the public.
AkzoNobel is the Dutch company which pulled out from supplying the resin. The resin is to coat the concrete processing containers, about the size of a double decker bus, not to store the waste temporarily.
These giant containers will process acid heated up at more than 2,000 Fahrenheit in part of the process to extract rare earth from the ore.The Dutch company pulled out from supplying the resin citing dampness of the floor and cracks in the walls of the concrete containers.
The narrow distance of underground water in the swampy Gebeng area coupled with sub-standard construction could have contributed to the problems mentioned.
These don’t instill confidence that LAMP would operate safely.
Can we be sure that there won’t be any unforseen accidents which will let these ore/waste leach into the underground water? How would Lynas deal with such contingencies? On top of that, Lynas hasn’t put forth a permanent disposal plan!!
An expensive cleaning up and burial of low-level radioactive tin tiling is still ongoing at Bukit Merah. The cleaning up is at the expnese of Mitsubishi Corp ordered by the then still partially independent court. The land surrounding the ARE has been inhabitable since the mid-1990s. Do we want Bukit Merah II to happen at Gebeng?
All these while we hear of best case, accident free scenarios from pro-Lynas people.Can they guarantee that there won’t be a worst case scenario involving an industrial accident?
Bamboo. If Malaysia wants to be an advanced high-income nation, we have to industrialise. But industrialisation comes with a price and that’s pollution. Highly pollution-conscious Western nations still go for industrialisation. The very reason why they can do that is because they go for evidence-based science and that means relying on scientific facts and figures. The anti-Lynas group on the other hand, totally reject what the West has been practising. When the real scientist amongst them presented concrete scientific facts and figures, they were ordered to keep quiet. That’s what happened to the nuclear scientist and university lecturer, PAS MP Che Rosli.
A few days ago, Fukushima had a leak of a few thousand TRILLION Becquerel. Lynas is 6.2 Becquerel yet these anti-Lynas [folks] are implying that Lynas is as bad as Fukushima.
Kong Kek Kuat says
I really don´t know what to say other than you appear to think that I have the same opinion as this TNG. Let me be clear that I do not. Perhaps you should imagine that my comments were actually made by a robot (no personality, no linguistic subtleties, and no linguistic nuances), and read them that way.
Kong Kek Kuat says
And just for clarity, in case my comment gets cut to pieces again, I did mention in my previous comment to you that numbers are not important. I said that numbers are irrelevant [as] the reason [for] protest by the anti-LAMP group. The editors assumed that you would understand my point from the comment, that´s why they cut it off.
KKK. You seem to have little understanding on the importance of numbers in science. Let me give you an example to illustrate this vital point.
1. Radiation from banana: 0.1 bq/g
2. Radiation from Lynas: 6 bq/g
3. Radiation from nuclear reactor: In excess of 1,000,000,000 bq/g
This is the reason why one can’t compare a banana and Lynas to a nuclear reactor.
If we use your logic and I quote “numbers are irrelevant”, then we should oppose nuclear reactors, Lynas and bananas because all 3 are radioactive. Do you see how flawed your logic is?
Kong Kek Kuat says
Well excuse me. In that case, we don´t need the AELB then. We should just discharge all the effluence into the drains then. You are very intelligent.
KKK. Are you suggesting AELB should regulate bananas also? Are you out of your mind?
♥ 🙂 😉
85% OF LYNAS “WASTE” IS OF MALAYSIAN ORIGIN.
Annual import of Ore Concentrate = 65,000 tonnes
Annual production of REE = 22,500 tonnes
Therefore actual ‘Waste” of Australian origin
= 65,000 – 22,500 = 42,500 tonnes per year
TOTAL “WASTE” from Lynas Plant = 290,400 tonnes/yr
1. WLP = 64,000 tonnes/yr
2. FGD = 55,800 tonnes/yr
3. NUF = 170,600 tonnes/yr
THEREFORE AUSTRALIA CONTRIBUTES TO ONLY 14.5 % (42,000 divided by 290,400×100 %) of the so-called “waste” tonnage.
DON’T YOU THINK THAT IT IS A SICK JOKE TO ASK AUSTRALIA TO TAKE “BACK” A SO-CALLED “WASTE” WHICH IS OF 85.5% MALAYSIAN ORIGIN ?
Dato’ Dr Looi Hoong Wah
FAMM, MB., ChB(Manchester), MRCS(England), MRCP(UK), MRCP(London)
I may be wrong but I think Australia will not take back any sort of waste back into Australia as a matter of policy, regardless of whether it’s radioactive or not radioactive. For example, Australia exports lots of orange and coal. And assuming someone is crazy enough to want to bring orange peels and radioactive coal ashes back into Australia, Australia will also not accept. Assuming I am right, then I suppose foreigners must think Malaysians are either all stupid or crazy for wanting to do so. Maybe that’s why we call ourselves “Malaysia Boleh” – doing thing others can’t or wouldn’t do.
Dear Dr. Looi,
FGD waste is generally of our own origin (at least the raw materials of alkalines and lime, the most common FGD system in use). The process of FGD is simple, to remove sulphur from the exhaust/the system and to prevent sulphur pollutants. However, the sulphur would originally be from the ore itself. Having said that, FGD waste is not the main concern (even our fossil fuel power plants have this system to remove sulphur dioxide). It is expected that the radiation levels in FGD waste are minimal, as only very little material from the original ore is collected by the FGD system, and its main use is only for pollutant removal (SO2). I can’t seem to find much on the NUF system, but I expect it to be of similar use to FGD as well (basically more of pollutant removal system). My main concern is WLP, which consists mainly of the original material (and thus, higher concentration levels).
If I am not mistaken, the UK has laws which requires other countries to take back the equivalent radioactivity levels of waste that country will import into the UK. Fair game, they say.
If Lynas DID NOT SEPARATE THEIR “WASTE” INTO the 3 COMPONENTS i.e. WLP, FGD and NUF, the Lynas “waste” would have a specific activity of only 1.35 Bq/g.
1.35 Bq/g is only marginally above the “safe to eat” level in the EU and the USA of 1.25 Bq/g and 1.2 Bq/g respectively.
AND IF WE ADD AN EQUAL AMOUNT OF MALAYSIAN SOIL TO THE ABOVE NON-SEPARATED “WASTE” THE ACTIVITY IS ONLY = 0.72 Bq/g.
0.72 Bq/g is well within the international (including Malaysia, the EU and the USA) SAFE LIMIT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION (IF EDIBLE)!!!
SO WHAT’S SO DANGEROUS ABOUT THE LYNAS WASTE?
IT CAN BE SAFELY EATEN (IF EDIBLE) FROM A RADIATION POINT OF VIEW WHEN BLENDED WITH AN EQUAL AMOUNT OF MALAYSIAN SOIL!
Blending is an internationally accepted and legitimate way of decreasing the impact of a norm (naturally occurring radioactive material) on the environment and follows the basic safety principle of the World Health Organisation, International Labour Organisation and seven more UN and other reputable international organisations – with guidelines on this existing in many countries.
Once blended, all the so-called “waste” is by International and Malaysian standards NON-RADIOACTIVE and is fit even for human consumption.
AND SO IT IS SILLY TO ASK LYNAS TO SEND THE “RADIOACTIVE WASTE” OUT OF THE COUNTRY BECAUSE “the radioactive waste” NO LONGER EXIST after blending!
Regulatory limits on radioactivity in foods (source: IAEA)
USA foodstuff = 1.20 bq/g (1,200 bq/kg)
EU foodstuff = 1.25 bq/g (1,250 bq/kg)
Accepted global limits on radioactivity levels in foods is 1000 bq/kg (1,200 bq/kg in the USA and 1,250 bq/g in the EU).
Total “waste” from Lynas plant = 290,400 tonnes/yr consisting of:
1. water leach purification residue (WLP) = 64,000 tonnes/yr >>>> ~ 6 bq/g
2. flue gas desulphurisation residue (FGD) = 55,800 tonnes/yr >>>> ~ 0.049 bq/g
3. Neutralisation underflow residue (NUF) = 170,600 tonnes/yr >>>> ~ 0.029 bq/g
Average Malaysian soil >>>> ~ 0.082 bq/g
Looks like this drlooihw has turned from medical dr into a nuclear scientist over night. New job as Lynas apologist?
Bamboo. Let’s see what choices we have, should we? We have a choice of listening to a Human Resource manager by the name of Fuziah? Or an accountant by the name of Lim Guan Eng? Or an oil palm planter by name of Wong Tack? Or a medical doctor from a major British university? Whom would you pick?
TNG, a medical doctor without conscience is the most dangerous species.
Bamboo. Before one accuses a particular doctor to be without conscience, he/she must first be able to point out which scientific facts and figures quoted by that doctor are factually wrong. So please indicate the wrong facts and figures quoted by that doctor or else we all know who really is the one without conscience. From what I see, many of the anti-Lynas folks are because they are the ones going around implying that Lynas’s radiation is as bad as a nuclear reactor’s. Are you saying that as well?
Dear Dr. Looi,
As mentioned in the IAEA report, the Lynas plant is not planning to mix all 3 wastes together (I doubt it would even be wise to do so, especially for FGD wastes which will be alkaline in nature). Their actions on both FGD and NUF waste is both recommended in industry (as I would expect these waste to be mainly pollutant removal systems) with some hopeful degree of recyclability. WLP is the interesting one. With 6Bq/g, it is certainly as noted in your data above, 5 times the limit for foodstuff. And just where did you dig out blending as an acceptable form of action on wastes? It is dependent on the nature of the waste first and foremost. We do not have the chemical composition of WLP waste to jump to the conclusion that it is safe for blending, only supposed (yes even the report is to be doubted, as IAEA had not performed their own tests, rather relying on an already existing report from somewhere, which we cannot access) radiation concentration levels.
Separation is important, we only mix if we have to. It takes significantly more energy to separate than to mix in any given system. [This is the] law of entropy.
BenG. Maybe this link would be of interest to you.
My personal view is that AELB is the problem in this mess. Lynas is doing a business. AELB didn’t set up adequate laws, and viola, we have the Lynas conundrum.
FGD residue (via the oxidation and ammonia reaction path) has been shown to be able to be used as fertilisers http://www.osti.gov/energycitations/product.biblio.jsp?osti_id=20634234
and as gypsum boards (via the conventional lime reaction path)
However, care should be taken in the manufacturing of these boards as well https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_drywall
As mentioned, I cannot find much on NUF at all. However, based on the radioactive concentrations, I speculate it is also some kind of pollutant removal system like FGD.
As I mentioned, dilution may be accepted, if and only if it is applicable on a case-by-case basis. If there are Malaysian laws which prohibit this, then why are they not following the law? Anyway, I’m interested in a comment by Nick which mentions international standards. The key words are “by means of appropriate design measures and procedures”. Having said that, tests have to be conducted on the suitability of the recycled material. Will the molecules leak out? And at what rate? Will direct exposure be harmful over a long period of time? All these would be answered in a scientific journal (which should be peer reviewed) on this topic. As since no such journals exists, you get the idea then.
The way I see it, WLP is produced at the end, and it has to go somewhere (recyclebility has not been shown to be appropriate, otherwise, cite your journal). If it’s not being shipped back home, then it’s the RSF…till when?
PS: I agree with it as it is. It is legit. After all, an engineer’s ideal world is to have a complete circular cycle. But do not take it simply that dilution is legal or proper. Much needs to be considered.
In Lim Kit Siang’s blog, he seems to be of the view that our Malaysian standard may be tougher than the international one because it’s out of date.
My personal view on Lynas is, I am certain Lynas waste is toxic just like all industrial waste and quite similar (in terms of radioactivity) to the Malaysian smelting factory’s waste in Penang which nobody said anything about. So my complaint is with Pakatan and the anti-Lynas [movement] harping on the waste being as dangerous radioactively as nuclear reactor. They did that by using outright lies and misinformation often linking Fukushima with Lynas and in the process created an irrational frenzy of fear in the general population. I don’t know whether to admire or laugh at those […] people walking from Kuantan to parliament thinking Lynas is indeed a nuclear reactor that’s going to blow. And we shouldn’t drag foreign investors into our domestic politics either.
I am a proponent of nuclear power plant and find the movement is full of deceit. They came up with various cheap fraudulent arguments not caring a bit about the truth. I can admit there’s concern on certain aspects of the operation, but to blow it out of proportion [and use] falsehoods [and] propaganda had me up in arms. I’ve debated all segments of anti-Lynas supporters including academicians but none can even tell me why its dangerous. Lies after lies are concocted when I debunk them. All these are rubbish and to have […] Wong Tack as an MP is an utter disgrace.
Quote: “I’ve debated all segments of anti-Lynas supporters including academicians but none can even tell me why its dangerous.”
>> They have told your REPEATEDLY, just your refusal to accept. Will you define the word ‘radioactive’.
NONE of your reasons hold water.
Wave33. May be I am missing something. Can you please tell us how bad is Lynas? Please give us some scientific figures and data and not some general rhetorical statements like “It’s bad” or “It’s polluting” or “Australia don’t want it” or “look at Bukit Merah” etc. Because from my conversation with those against Lynas, those are typically the reasons given but I would prefers solid scientific data and reasoning instead.
NOT EVERYTHING THAT IS RADIOACTIVE IS DANGEROUS.
EVEN YOUR WIFE IS RADIOACTIVE!
Do Not Be too Paranoid about Radiation for Radiation is Everywhere.
Even our DNA is radioactive as the highly radioactive Carbon-14 which constitute a part of the DNA molecule undergoes beta decay by emission of an electron and an antineutrino and changes into Nitrogen-14.
So even our sacred DNA changes with time as a result of this intrinsic radioactivity.
The potassium tablets that your doctor gives you as an adjunct for high blood pressure therapy is highly radioactive with a radioactivity of 32 Bq/gm and we need about 2 to 3 grams of potassium per day to stay alive.
The radioactivity comes from potassium-40. This is more than 500% the radioactivity of the Lynas waste which contains only 6 Bq/gm mainly from Thorium-232.
Potassium when taken stays in the intracellular space where the cancer sensitive chromosomes are located whereas the ingested or inhaled Thorium-232 remains in the extracellular (outside the cell) space.
All the potassium that we eat everyday in our food contains potassium-40 and the normal dietary potassium would give a total of about 80 Bq per day.
Compare this with the Lynas waste which produces only 6 Bq/gm.
Even your wife or husband is radioactive, with a radioactivity of 4,400 Bq from Potassium-40 and another 3,000 Bq from Carbon-14 giving a total of about 7,400 Bq!
The internal radiation from Potassium-40 and Carbon-14 give a total exposure of 0.40 mSv/year and this is 200 times that of exposure dose from Lynas worst case scenario within a 1 km radius of the plant.
Sleeping next to someone (i.e. your wife or husband) for 8 hours a day will lead to an exposure of 0.02 mSv/year (Source: UNSCEAR and EPA) i.e. 10x that of Lynas worst case scenario.
Since all living cells contain potassium, all types of meat, flesh, fruits, nuts and vegetables are radioactive because of the potassium-40 content.
The so-called sodium free salt recommended by health experts.
JW Tan says
How do we verify that the waste indeed has activity that low? I mean verify in such a way that will satisfy the public? Saying it is so doesn’t necessarily make it so.
Mr Tan. AFAIK, the following organization/people said Lynas’s material radioactivity is between 6 to 6.2 bq/g.
1. United Nation International Atomic Energy Agency. Page 29
2. Lim Kit Siang in his blog.
Please read them yourself
JW Tan says
And these were written based on projections. Who’s doing the inspection now? Are the results made public? Who’s auditing the inspectors?
Dear Dr. Looi,
First and foremost, I am not a medical doctor by profession. Rather at the other end, an engineer. My understanding of the human body is extremely limited. Please enlighten me on a few things regarding the human body as I cannot find any information pertaining to the questions that I am about to ask you.
1) Is the effect of radiation cumulative? That is, if today I get 1mSv dose, tomorrow I get another 1mSv dose, my total will be 2mSv dose.
2) How long does it take for our bodies to repair itself from these dosages of radiation (just a general case). Say if I take in 10mSv today, how long does it take to repair this damage, such that my body can take another 10mSv without it being damaged further.
I realise these questions go deep into DNA repair rates and other potentially unexplored factors as well. A friend of mine suggested I look at how long it takes for new cells to be replaced, and that it depends on the area affected. Some like the neurons in the cerebral cortex don’t even replace themselves. Is this a good enough answer, or is there a better answer? Thank you.
WHAT IS THE SAFE LEVEL OF RADIATION?
[For the general public], dose limits for exposure from uranium mining or nuclear plants are usually set at 1 mSv per year above background.
[This is] according to the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurement (NCRP) and its international counterpart, the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP). Both of these organisations offer recommendations for the maximum permissible dose (MPD) of radiation.
For radiation workers, the annual MPD is 50 mSv (NCRP) and 20 mSv (ICRP), with a cumulative MPD of 10 mSv x Age.
MPD during pregnancy is 5 mSv (NCRP) and 2 mSv (ICRP).
In most countries, the current maximum permissible dose to radiation workers is 20 mSv/yr averaged over five years, with a maximum of 50 mSv in any one year.
This is over and above background exposure, and excludes medical exposure. The value originates from the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP).
HOWEVER, EXPERTS INCLUDING Professor WADE ALLISON OF OXFORD UNIVERSITY ARGUE THAT THE DOSE LIMIT CAN SAFELY BE RAISED TO 100 mSv, based on current health statistics.
UNSCEAR ADMITS THAT THEY WERE WRONG TO IMPLY THAT THERE IS NO SAFE LEVEL OF RADIATION!
There IS a safe level and that is:
RADIATION DOSES LESS THAN ABOUT 10 rem (100 mSv) per year ARE SAFE.
(Note: 100 mSv = 5,OO0,000% Lynas worst case scenario)
Have a look at this article recommended by Nick Tsurikov, the International Radiation Safety Expert and co-author of the IAEA Radiation Safety Report.
Excerpts of Article in Forbes:
“UNSCEAR (THE UNITED NATIONS SCIENTIFIC COMMITTEE ON THE EFFECTS OF ATOMIC RADIATION) HAS FINALLY ADMITTED THAT WE CAN’T USE THE LNT HYPOTHESIS TO PREDICT CANCER FROM LOW DOSES OF RADIATION.
It is generally agreed that radiation is cumulative in nature.
However, this depends on many factors like the dose, the intensity, the duration, the type of radiation, the interval between exposure, the type of tissue involved, the type of organism, the shielding, the distance, the age, the genetic makeup of the individual and the rate as well as the repair capability of the tissues involved.
The best analogy is sunlight, which is a form of radiation especially within the ultraviolet part of the spectrum.
If you are exposed to a dose which your skin is capable of taking, no harm will occur even over a prolonged period. But this depends on the intensity, duration, frequency of exposure and the final cumulative dose. For a particular person, this cumulative dose, if large enough would result in premature ageing of the skin or even worse, in the development of skin cancers.
However, there IS a safe level and that is,
RADIATION DOSES LESS THAN ABOUT 10 rem (100 mSv) per year ARE SAFE.
(Note: 100 mSv = 5,OO0,000 % Lynas’s worst case scenario)
Have a look at this article recommended by Nick Tsurikov, the international radiation safety expert and co-author of the IAEA Radiation Safety Report.
A very big report came out recently with very little fanfare.
Excerpts of Article in Forbes:
“UNSCEAR (THE UNITED NATIONS SCENTIFIC COMMITTEE ON THE EFFECTS OF ATOMIC RADIATION) HAS FINALLY ADMITTED THAT WE CAN’T USE THE LNT HYPOTHESIS TO PREDICT CANCER FROM LOW DOSES OF RADIATION.
IT CONCLUDED WHAT WE IN NUCLEAR SCIENCE HAVE BEEN SAYING FOR DECADES –
RADIATION DOSES LESS THAN ABOUT 10 rem (0.1 Sv) ARE NO BIG DEAL.
The linear no-threshold dose hypothesis (LNT) does not apply to doses less than 10 rem (100 mSv).
For transportation purposes, A RADIOACTIVE MATERIAL IS DEFINED AS ANY MATERIAL WHICH HAS A SPECIFIC ACTIVITY GREATER THAN
a …. > 74 Bq/g in USA (U.S.NRC Nuclear Regulatory Commission)
b …. > 10 Bq/g (Thorium-232) in Australia and
c …. > 1 Bq/g in Malaysia!!!
Because the 1989 Malaysian Transport Regulations are closely based on the out-of-date 1985 IAEA Transport Regulations.
As a result any material that contains Uranium and Thorium with a combined activity of just 1 Bq/g needs to be regulated by AELB.
IT’S TIME FOR MALAYSIA TO “DOWNGRADE” IT’S STANDARDS TO THAT OF THE STANDARDS OF THE MORE ADVANCED COUNTRIES!!!
Dato’ Dr Looi Hoong Wah
FAMM, MB., ChB(Manchester), MRCS(England), MRCP(UK) MRCP(London)
JW Tan says
Really? How does the transportation technology available to us compare to that available in the US? Defining ‘radioactive’ material in terms of Bq for the purposes of transport seems a bit strange – surely safety should be defined in terms of risk of damage (or Gy absorbed) to humans? Maybe we don’t have great radiation shielding compared to advanced countries, but we could write better regulations.
There’s a credibility gap here – no one believes what they are told, especially by the Malaysian government, so people continue to oppose Lynas (even if it is indeed perfectly safe). Related to this, people also build in an incompetency premium – they expect, whatever safety routine or failsafes are put in place, Lynas or the Malaysian government to screw up. Now this is normally unfair, but where radioactivity is concerned it is perhaps forgiveable.
It’s also a reason why, despite the great things about nuclear power, Malaysia should not be allowed to construct nuclear power plants.
JW Tan. You don’t have to believe the Malaysian government if you don’t want to. So how about trusting United Nation’s International Atomic Energy Agency? You can go read their report on Lynas or any other reports from IAEA and you will find that USA classifies Lynas’s raw material as “non radioactive” and “not subject to any restriction on transportation”. In layman’s term, they treat it as normal rocks and soils. And this stuff will transit at Singapore before reaching Kuantan and Singapore also treat it as rocks. FYI, rocks have radioactivity also.
You don’t have to trust anyone here. Best is you go read the IAEA report here yourself
🙂 😉 ♥ 🙂 😉 ♥ 🙂 😉
Quote JW Tan:
” Defining ‘radioactive’ material in terms of Bq for the purposes of transport seems a bit strange – surely safety should be defined in terms of risk of damage (or Gy absorbed) to humans?”
FOR TRANSPORT PURPOSES, ALL THE IMPORTANT AGENCIES DEALING WITH RADIATION use the specific activity in terms of Bq/g or micro-Curie/gm to define the Clearance or Discharge level of a radionuclide.
If any Malaysian (including Mr JW Tan) feel that they are smarter than the nuclear scientists at IAEA or the U.S.NRC Nuclear Regulatory Commission, please let them know ! ! !
Dato’ Dr Looi
🙁 🙁 🙁 🙁
JW Tan says
That’s just an appeal to authority. If I said that I have a doctorate in nuclear physics, would that add weight to my arguments? You don’t know whether or not I do. I don’t put my qualifications at the bottom of my posts.
The point here is not whether a theoretical waste product of 6bq per g is safe for transport, it’s whether or not the actual waste created by the Lynas plant has a maximum radioactivity level of 6bq per g and how it is transported.
JW Tan. You seems to have more trust in a human resources manager called Fuziah and an accountant called Lim Guan Eng instead of a medical doctor on matter regarding radiation. Most strange indeed.
Kong Kek Kuat says
I´ll take the accountant over the medical doctor anytime. We all know what happened to MCA and Malaysia when medical doctors were leading them.
Kong Kek Kuat. I am very surprised that when you fall sick, you go see an accountant instead of a medical doctor. I am very curious whom you would see if you had a tax issue….a medical doctor?
BTW, I don’t think the doctor running MCA is seeing sick patients, is he?
Kong Kek Kuat says
[…] I thought we were talking about radiation, for which I´m sure the rational, scientific, and logical conclusion is not to see a medical doctor, but a scientist specialising in radiation, or an environmental accountant (one who does environmental accounting). One would have thought that as obvious.
KKK. If you are concerned about radiation effect on other matter, then you should consult scientists specialising in radiation on other matter.
But if your concern is about radiation effect on human beings, shouldn’t we consult a medical doctor who specialises on radiation effect on humans?
I find it irrational that you would consult an accountant on a matter relating to radiation effect on humans. Care to elaborate?
Kong Kek Kuat says
Is it me or have we become more uptight about humour in sarcasm?
Haha… There is no such thing as a “medical doctor specialising in radiation”. There are medical doctors who specialise in using radiation in treatment of humans, though.
[…] there are [even] accountants who specialise in environmental accounting, who are definitely more qualified than a medical doctor on issues of the environmental effects from radiation leaks.
From what I read, Dr Looi Hoong Wah graduated from one of the top universities in UK (Manchester) as a doctor. He is now a consultant physician with 40 years of interest in nuclear medicine and particle physics.
On the other hand, Lim Guan Eng is an accountant who worked at a bank.
So on matters concerning radiation, I find those opposed to Lynas would rather believe the accountant than the scientist doctor. This can only happen in Malaysia and is a sure sign of the failing of the Malaysian education system where people denounce science and logic.
BTW, there is a nuclear scientist MP from PAS called Che Rosli who has rebutted the fear of radiation pollution by Lynas and claimed that what LGE said was “unscientific”.
Kong Kek Kuat says
[…] I will bother to say, for the possible benefit of some, that “L y n a s h a s n o t b e e n t r a n s p a r e n t. The g o v e r n m e n t h a s n o t b e e n t r a n s p a r e n t. S h o w u s y o u r p l a n s.”
KKK. Please get your facts right. Nowadays it is those anti-Lynas people who do not want transparency, not the government.
Yes, the government had not been transparent when it approved Lynas. But since 2011, the government has tried to make amends, some of which are:
1. In 2011, it invited the United Nation’s IAEA to come in and do a study of Lynas. IAEA reports are on internet but the anti-Lynas group never wants to let the people know of the existence of these reports. In other words, the government is trying to be transparent but anti-Lynas wanted to hide this report. So it now seems it’s those in the anti-Lynas group who don’t want transparency.
2. On 12 May 2012, the Academy of Sciences Malaysia held a public forum at the Renaissance Hotel KL to educate the general public about Lynas. Beside overseas experts, ASM invited vocal Anti-Lynas people like PKR MP Fuziah, PAS MP Che Rosli and of course Wong Tack to be panelists. The aim was for both sides to present their case and to answer any questions the public may have about Lynas. And guess what, NONE of the anti-Lynas people attended. In other words, the anti-Lynas reps ran away from the general public and didn’t want to be transparent. This is because these anti-Lynas people dare not talk about their ‘scientific data’ in front of real experts because we all know they […] can’t stand up to scrutiny.
So there you it, it is the Anti-Lynas group who does not want to be transparent, not the government.
Kong Kek Kuat says
It appears that I am never allowed to say anything humourously insulting to this TNG, but he is allowed various attempts to insult my intelligence.
Jacqueline Ann Surin says
@Kong Kek Kuat:
Our comments policy is here: http://www.thenutgraph.com/comments-and-columns-policy/
I’m sure you are already familiar with it since this is not the first time I’ve had to moderate your comments. What may be “humorously insulting” by your standards may not be so humorous to the person at the end of your insults. Let’s argue the points instead of showing disdain for the person. We can all be polite and constructive and still make our point heard. Using insults, derision and put-downs just distracts all of us from the issue and instead draws attention on the sniping and baiting by different online personalities.
Kong Kek Kuat says
Your Comments Policy doesn’t say that civilised baiting is not allowed, does it? It does appear, at least to me (personally) sometimes, that you do protect some people here.
🙂 😉 ♥ 🙂 😉 ♥ 🙂 😉
Quote JW Tan:
“There’s a credibility gap here – no one believes what they are told, especially by the Malaysian government, so people continue to oppose Lynas (even if it is indeed perfectly safe).”
On Radiation problems,
Would you believe in the RADIATION EXPERTS FROM THE IAEA WHO WERE INVITED BY THE MALAYSIAN GOVERNMENT TO WRITE A DETAILED REPORT OF THE SAFETY ISSUES OF LYNAS
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 ! ! !
Dato’ Dr Looi
🙁 🙁 🙁 🙁
JW Tan says
You misunderstand me. I think the IAEA is more trustworthy than the Malaysian government (sort of, not on everything) but it’s not the IAEA that sets the environmental regulation regime that Lynas must operate under. It’s the Malaysian government. No one believes that they are competent or honest enough to oversee and audit Lynas.
Why should I believe you, someone who posts stuff on the internet, over Wong Tack, who actually exists? Credibility wise, you do not beat him. All I can go on is by verifying what you say. I certainly do not believe that Lynas is as dangerous as a nuclear reactor, but I do believe that the processing of the waste can go badly wrong. Here are some questions:
* How do we ensure that Lynas does not carry out other sorts of processing on which it is not licensed, that may result in considerably more dangerous waste? After all, all feedstock is imported from Australia.
* The IAEA report has a number of recommendations. How do we check that Lynas and the Malaysian government have carried them all out?
* How is the waste containing thorium transported? What if it gets into the water supply?
If someone who spends about 5 minutes googling and thinking can come up with these questions, people who spend their life campaigning surely can.
Kong Kek Kuat says
[Please address] why has there been no comprehensive, transparent plans on LAMP in relation to its waste.
KKK. Please tell us why the Anti-Lynas people never want to mention the 2011 United Nation’s IAEA report on Lynas? And why didn’t they want to be a panelist in the 2012 pubic forum that was also attended by foreign experts and professors? Do you think they are being transparent? Why and what are the Anti-Lynas people trying to hide?
Kong Kek Kuat says
[…] The answer is because the IAEA Report is irrelevant, and the “other” report is a sales pitch. And because it is not the anti-Lynas people who need to be transparent. The value of these reports has been addressed here and here in the comments section. […]
KKK. If a report by the world’s premier authority on radiation, the IAEA, is not considered relevant, then what is?
And looking at your link, are you suggesting lawyers know more about radiation than the IAEA? […]
As for the MMA objection, here are my opinions:
1. MMA suggested that western rare earth plants were closed due to hazardous reasons. In actual fact, it was more due to economic [reasons]. The West can handle the hazard but it costs money and pushes up production costs. The Chinese producer, however, don’t have to care about waste management so can price their product far cheaper. And when you can’t compete on price, you close down. This is Economics 101 […].
2. Some of the other objections raised by MMA seem valid but then the Malaysia Smelting Factory in Penang has the same problem with radiation so why is MMA and DAP picking on Lynas and not the MSC factory in Penang? By focusing on Lynas but not MSC, DAP has shown itself to be inconsistent in its policy and thus hypocritical. Another possibility could be, maybe Lynas wasn’t that bad as DAP made them out to be and if this is the case, then DAP has been lying to the raykat by saying Lynas’s radiation is as bad as a nuclear reactor’s.
Kong Kek Kuat says
@ Dear Editors,
The second hyperlink to my reply may have been damaged by your editing. Perhaps you could reinstate the link here?
KKK. Your 2nd link mentioned Academy of Science’s forum that was designed to let the general public know more about Lynas and I quote, “Now that the communication channels are open, local communities should continue to ask more questions.” Unfortunately, while the government invited foreign experts to answer any questions the communities might have, all invited anti-Lynas [representatives did not turn up.] They dare not attend because they knew what they were going to say would be exposed as absolute nonsense by real experts. […]
Here is the list of panellists:
1. Mr. Jack Lifton (Confirmed)
2. Mr. Alaistair Neill (Confirmed)
3. Prof. Dr. Chun-Hua Yan (Confirmed)
4. Mr. Christoph Wilhelm (Confirmed)
5. Dr. Meor Yusoff bin Meor Sulaiman (Confirmed)
6. YB Fuziah Salleh (Invited)
7. YB Che Rosli Che Mat (Invited)
8. Mr. Pook Ah Lek, Sin Chew Jit Poh (Invited)
9. Mr. Wong Tack, Save Malaysia Stop Lynas (Invited)
Kong Kek Kuat says
On a separate issue, it is precisely because we have thinking minds that the majority of readers here do not take what you say as the truth just because you are a “Dato Dr”.
JW Tan. I do see your point about […] people not understanding what is Bq or Gray or Rad or Sievert or rem. So [they] will believe the ridiculous claims by some politician that “Lynas is as bad as a nuclear reactor”.
Instead of Gray or Sievert, there is another way of measuring radiation effect on human body and it’s called BED. BED is easier for people who know nothing about radiation to understand. But BED is not robust or accurate enough for scientific purpose and that’s why you will not find serious publications using BED. After all, Lynas is a serious subject. Maybe Dr. Looi can do a calculation using BED for the benefit of clueless people.
To know more about BED, please read this article.
Quote anti-Lynas: “Lynas has not been honest and is not transparent.”
THE MAIN CAUSE OF THIS ANTI-LYNAS DEBACLE IS THAT LYNAS HAS BEEN FAR TOO HONEST AND FAR TOO TRANSPARENT ! ! !
If Lynas has not been too honest and too transparent about their operations, they would have made the following more diplomatic but equally honest statement from the word go, and would have avoided all the irrational fears in the easily brainwashed population:
“The concentrated ore from Mount Weld is only very slightly radioactive with a tiny radioactivity of 6 Bq/g from naturally occurring elements..”
Compare this with the
WASTE FROM MALAYSIAN AMANG INDUSTRY 100Bq/g and
WASTE “SCALE AND SLUDGE” IN OIL AND GAS INDUSTRY
………………………………LIKE IN PETRONAS = 1,000 Bq/g
For transportation purposes,
A RADIOACTIVE MATERIAL IS DEFINED AS ANY MATERIAL WHICH HAS A SPECIFIC ACTIVITY GREATER THAN
a …. 74 Bq/g in USA (U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission)
b …. 10 Bq/g (Thorium-232) in Australia and
c …. 1 Bq/g in Malaysia ! ! !
As such, the Lynas ore can be considered as non-radioactive and is allowed to be transported freely to any country in the world (except Malaysia).
The average radioactivity of the 3 so-called “waste” products is only 1.35 Bq/g.
This is only marginally above the “safe to eat” level in the EU and the USA of 1.25 Bq/g and 1.2 Bq/g respectively.
The “waste” in its moist form, with about 50% moisture, would have a specific activity of only 0.90 Bq/g!
A RADIOACTIVITY OF 0.90 Bq/g IS FIT TO BE EATEN (IF EDIBLE) UNDER US AND EU REGULATIONS ! ! !
Regulatory limits on radioactivity in foods (source: IAEA)
USA foodstuff = 1.20 Bq/g (1,200 Bq/kg)
EU foodstuff = 1.25 Bq/g (1,250 Bq/kg)
Accepted global limits on radioactivity levels in foods is 1,000 Bq/kg (1,200 Bq/kg in the USA and 1,250 Bq/g in the EU).
These levels were set by organisations like the IAEA and UNSCEAR after decades of study.
Hi Dr Looi. I am a skeptical person. I read the United Nation’s IAEA report on Lynas and on page 29, it said Lynas’s raw material can and I quote “can therefore be transported as non-radioactive material”. Yes, Mr Looi, I do check out the data you gave and I have not come across any mistakes. Thank you. As for the figures given by anti-Lynas, many are mere jokes. I am sure some don’t even have Form 5 science education.
I’ve gone down even to the detail of the IAEA report. Look at Looi above and you’ll know. Anti-lynas is a movement based on falsehood. Why many others join is because they are unthinking partisan supporters who, if you realise, are even worse than Lynas. Many of them are smokers. Anyway you know all this. So don’t mislead.
Ellese. We have something in common, basically, we are both skeptical persons. I don’t fully trust Lynas/government nor do we trust the Anti-Lynas group. So I did the logical thing of reading up, from standard school textbooks on radiation to theInternational Atomic Energy Agency report on Lynas. The very funny thing I found is, some of the claims by the anti-Lynas group like “Lynas is as bad as a nuclear reactor” is totally contrary to school textbooks. So either these anti-Lynas people have never attended proper school or they are lying through their teeth. And the very sad thing is, there are many Malaysians willing to believe some of the ridiculous nonsense from the anti-Lynas group.
Obviously you do not care to read. The transportation standard is a world wide standard and not Malaysia’s standard. If every country without exception regards it as non radioactive ( see the relevant convention) it cannot be a contravention because UMNO is involved. You have a partisan mindset. An act has a similar value irrespective who does it. We have too much rubbish with this partisan mindset so much so that the purveyor of the greatest falsehood ever, Wong Tack, is regarded as worthy to represent them in our parliament. Goodness.
JW Tan says
If no liars were ever allowed in parliament, we would not have any MPs. Ignorance shouldn’t, and doesn’t prevent people from speaking out, the question is whether or not one believes the explanations that result.
Rare earth processing plants have toxic and radioactive byproducts. This much is well known. These need to be processed further to reduce the risk. People who oppose Lynas believe that there is no guarantee that low levels of toxicity from the effluent / waste will continue, or that the levels are low in the first place. Who believes the Malaysian government? Nobody.
Obviously Lynas is not a nuclear reactor, but it is a potential environmental disaster if it goes wrong. The transportation standard cited by Dr Looi may be an international one, but it’s seems intuitively wrong to me – the key issue with radioactivity is not how much energy it produces (that’s the meaning of the becquerel unit) but how much energy the human body absorbs (measured in grays). Why aren’t regulations on transportation safety written in grays? I don’t see why low radioactivity materials are not dangerous if ingested. What if the effluent gets into the water supply? I freely admit I know little about such things, but what little I do know does not really make sense.
You might well fob such questions off with requests to read research and other documents. I’ve read quite a lot of material on Lynas, and not found the answer to these questions. Point me in the right direction if you will, otherwise you are equally guilty of ignorance.
JW Tan. They use Sievert. Gray talks about absorbed doses. Sievert talks about biological effect of the dose. In lay[person] language, it means when we talk about people and radiation, we don’t talk about Gray but Sievert.
Lynas is of course dangerous but the talk about radiation from those anti-lynas [supporters] are full of lies. Fact is, Lynas is simply being politicized to gain votes. If it wasn’t, why doesn’t DAP talk about the Malaysia Smelting Corporation factory in Penang also importing radioactive metal ore from Australia and leaving same radioactive waste in Malaysia? Why not saying a single word?
You can read about Gray and Sievert here.
JW Tan says
Thank you. So why are the regulations on transport written in becquerels instead of sieverts, or grays?
Why not Sv for transport?
The reason is quite obvious.
Since Sv refers to the biological effect, there are far too many variables involved. Let’s take the case of Th-232. The biological effect of this radionuclide will depend on:
1) The concentration of the Th-232 in the material.
2) Whether we are considering the Th-232 as an external or internal threat. As an external threat, we need to consider only the gamma rays, as the alpha and beta (electrons) do not go far and the alpha cannot penetrate even the skin. If we are going to consider the Th-232 as an internal threat, we need to consider all 3 types of radiation.
3) The distance (governed by the inverse square law) and the total time of exposure.
4) Whether the Th-232 is freshly isolated and even if freshly isolated, is it freshly physically isolated (an incredibly expensive procedure) or freshly chemically isolated.
100% pure physically isolated Thorium-232 do not produce any gamma rays and as such has practically no external biological effect (the 0.09 MeV of gamma rays in freshly chemically isolated Th-232 actually comes from Th-228 which cannot be chemically isolated from Thorium-232).
In other words, if you were to stand 1 metre from a 1,000 kg of 100% freshly physically isolated sphere of Th-232, the radiation dose is 0 microSv/hr!
For chemically isolated Thorium-232 (Th-228 as an isotope cannot be chemically isolated) there is a small dose from Th-228.
Secular equilibrium is achieved in 30 yrs, and natural Thorium will emit gamma rays as a result of its progenies.
5) The shape of the radionuclide e.g. in Th-232, because it is a superb radiation shield, a round ball 1,000kg solid metallic Th-232 will radiate only a minute amount of radiation from its surface.
But a sheet of metallic Th-232 of the same mass as the Thorium sphere, because of the huge surface area, will emit much more radiation.
The same effect will occur if the Thorium is dispersed in a material.
Phua Kai Lit says
Only one comment from me:
1) Datuk Dr Liew Hoong Wah
Why don’t you write up all your pro-Lynas material in the form of an article and send it to a peer-reviewed scientific journal for publication? Then we will see if your fringe rantings can pass scientific scrutiny by the toxicology, environmental health and other public health experts.
2) Check out the video on the experience of Baotou (China) with
environmental and public health effects of rare earth production on YouTube
Phua Kai Lit
Mr Phua. What Datuk Dr Looi wrote matches what was found in United Nation International Atomic Energy Agency publications. Yes, I had checked and I suggest you do the same. So I do not see the point in him repeating what peer reviewers already published. On the other hand, I found some of the claims by Anti-Lynas actually contradicts standard science textbook so maybe it would be a good idea for Anti-Lynas [supporters] to send their articles to a peer-reviewed scientific journal for publication instead. I believe they [would] either throw it into the dustbin or give them a Nobel price for new discoveries.
🙂 😉 🙂 😉 🙂 🙂 😉
Quote Phua Kai Lit: ” Why don’t you write up ……send it to a peer-reviewed scientific journal for publication? ..Check out the video on..Baotou (China) with environmental and public health effects ” Unquote
Why should I send all my articles for peer review when it is specially written in an attempt to de-brainwash the BRAINWASHED ANTI-LYNAS FOLKS and to stop them from flaunting their absolute stupidity for the entertainment of the world audience. 🙂
The Baotou video showed only the ultra-primitive Mao era REE mines and plants!
The video showed mainly the pollution caused by the ultra-primitive rare earth mines and hyper-primitive Mao era REE plants in China causing widespread lung and other health problems.
The Lynas plan in Gebeng is an ultra-modern, ultra-sophisticated, state of the art rare earth plant which was designed with the collaboration of the scientists from the La Rochelle REE plant in France.
This REE plant in France has operated for the last 40 years or so without any radiation or toxic waste problem and WITHOUT ANY “SILLY ANTI-LYNAS” problem.
To assume that the primitive conditions seen in the video is that of the ultra-modern and ultra-sophisticated Lynas plant is like assuming it is dangerous to cross the Pacific Ocean in an old primitive decrepit Chinese junk (wooden sailing boat) and equally dangerous for the ultra-modern passenger ship, The Queen Mary, to sail across the Pacific Ocean!
AND MOREOVER, KUANTAN PEOPLE ARE NOT RARE EARTH OR THORIUM MINERS!
The rare earth miners in the case of the Lynas Rare Earth Plant are still in a place called Mount Weld in Western Australia!
If there is any long term lung problem, the Australians are the ones who will be getting those problems and not the Kuantan people.
Defending an indefensible cause (to argue that rare earth processing is safe) is futile. No matter how one spins the facts and puts forth numbers from papers, this will not convince people with commonsense.
1. The rare earth processing plant in France operates under a reasonably true democracy.They have professional and transparent bodies to oversee its rare earth processing plant. In Malaysia, our AELB is not up to the mark in competency, ethics and professionalism.
2. International organisations like WHO, ILO etc have good reputations. However, do they have the power to oversee the running of LAMPS?
3. Until now, Lynas hasn’t put forth a definite/concrete permanent disposal plan. The way Lynas stealthily built its plant just tells us that Lynas has something to hide.
The way it obtained permission to build and operate in Gebeng was highly dubious too. Who would trust such a company doing things stealthily?
Its surprising that you didn’t ask anti Lynas movement to publish in a scientific journal. You can accept the falsehood of anti Lynas by mere allegation but those you disagree you ask to have peer review. The IAEA report is a public report by experts. Please read it. And please ask your friend Dr Hsu not to be afraid of contrarian views. Nutgraph has no issue with people providing contrarian views and nothing happens. So Don’t be afraid to rebut and argue.
♥ Nick Tsurikov, Renown International Radiation Safety Expert:
“THORIUM IN ‘WASTE’ IS INSOLUBLE AND CANNOT POISON ANY PLANTS, ANIMALS OR THE ENVIRONMENT – EVEN IN THEORY.”
♥ Richard Martin, famous journalist with extensive experience in Thorium:
“A CHUNK OF THORIUM IS NO MORE HARMFUL THAN A BAR OF SOAP.”
♥ United States Government Rare Earth Adviser and Expert Jack Lifton:
“LYNAS PLANT IS LARGEST AND SAFEST IN THE WORLD.”
♥ Scientists at John Hopkins University:
“LOW-DOSE RADIATION CANNOT CAUSE CONGENITAL DEFECTS.”
♥ Professor WADE ALLISON OF OXFORD UNIVERSITY:
“THE DOSE LIMIT CAN SAFELY BE RAISED TO 100 mSv, based on current health statistics.”
♥ Nick Tsurikov, renown international radiation safety expert:
“RADIATION FROM THE PLANT WILL BE UNDETECTABLE OUTSIDE THE BOUNDARIES (of the plant).”
♥ MORMAN FREDERICK MOORE, THE AUSTRALIAN MINISTER FOR MINES AND PETROLEUM:
“IF LYNAS HAD CHOSEN TO OPERATE IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA, IT WOULD BE WELCOMED WITH OPEN ARMS!”
♥ UNSCEAR (The United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation):
“RADIATION DOSES LESS THAN ABOUT 10 rem ( 0.1 Sv ) ARE SAFE.”
(Note: 0.1 Sv = 100 mSv or 50,000 times Lynas’s worst case scenario)
The linear no-threshold dose hypothesis (LNT) does not apply to doses less than 10 rem (0.1 Sv)
♥ PROFESSOR DAVID BRADLEY, University of Surrey UK, with three-decade experience in the radiation protection and radiation physics field and who has conducted more than 200 researches and publications in radiation protection and medical physics said:
“THERE IS NO EVIDENCE TO SUGGEST THAT THE LYNAS ADVANCED MATERIALS PLANT WOULD CAUSE AN ENVIRONMENTAL OR HEALTH CONCERN.”
♥ Christoph Wilhelm, in charge of decommissioning Germany’s nuclear plants from Karlsruhr Institute of Technology:
“I WOULD MOVE MY WIFE and YOUNG CHILDREN TO LIVE IN THAT PLANT BECAUSE THE BACKGROUND RADIATION IS LOWER THAN WHERE I LIVE IN GERMANY.”
Quote BenG: “.. just where did you dig out blending as an acceptable form of action on wastes”?
N. Tsurikov’s reply to critics of plans to dilute rare earth radioactive waste by blending:
I find the assertion that blending the residue (or waste) for recycling is in some way “irresponsible” and “unethical” very misleading.
Unless you all agree that the following NINE highly reputable international organisations are also irresponsible and unethical:
– European Atomic Energy Community,
– Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations,
– International Atomic Energy Agency,
– International Labour Organisation,
– International Maritime Organisation,
– OECD Nuclear Energy Agency,
– Pan American Health Organisation,
– United Nations Environment Programme, and.
– World Health Organisation.
Please refer to the “Fundamental Safety Principles” that were jointly co-sponsored by ALL of the above organisations in 2006, that call, in part 3.29, for the following:
The generation of radioactive waste must be kept to the minimum practicable level by means of appropriate design measures and procedures, such as the recycling and reuse of material.
In addition, there is a legal requirement in some jurisdictions, such as Western Australia, to ensure that “radioactive waste is diluted with other mined material before it is finally disposed of in order to ensure that in the long term the use of the disposal site is not restricted” (WA Mines Safety and Inspection Regulation 16.35(2)).
I, therefore, would like to pose the following question..:
Do you agree that organisations such as the UN Environment Programme, International Labour Organisation and World Health Organisation are also “highly irresponsible and unethical”?
If you do – I rest my case..
Dear Dr. Looi,
Following our other discussion on radiation, I’m expected to be very busy over this weekend (from now actually) and have minimal time to go through the UNSCEAR reports. I hope to reply within one week on this very interesting matter. I apologise for the matter and thank you very much for your much appreciated reply.
From the IAEA report on Lynas, you are both right and wrong. The past regulations were strict, as not much was known on radiation (you are most welcome to read Dr Looi’s reply to my questions on radiation effects on the body above); better be safe than sorry mindset.
However, there are also weaknesses in our laws, in particular on waste disposal (also mentioned in the report). That, coupled with weak enforcement, makes Malaysia a prime target. Our enforcement is extremely weak. Just a quick glance at our construction industry and you can see what, how and why. An example is the ramp collapse at Batu Maung. All scaffolding should have a green tag which needs to be signed (either daily or weekly) by an inspector on the integrity of the scaffold. It wasn’t there. Compare this with UK development (actually they have a similar law about this as well; every scaffold I’ve seen in the UK when I was there always had a green tag, not to mention the nets, pads, alarms etc etc).
Do you have docs surrounding the said smelting plant? I would love to have a look.
I generally do not say much on the political or economical side of things (lack of interest and understanding), but if I was the government, I wouldn’t have opened up to them. There are other better fields to open up to. Malaysia is all about sudden demands without proper preparations. Last time there was an IT demand, and look how it turned out. We really need to take a page from Singapore. Now their bio industry is booming like crazy because they took the time to prepare their workforce, then started to bring in companies. Then again, we also need to fix our education system and mentality which is in a whole different mess.
PS: My beef with Lynas is twofold. Where is the waste going to go at the end? And are the numbers in the IAEA accurate? Read the report CAREFULLY, IAEA did not perform their own tests, rather relied on another report by Lynas. Another thing in Malaysia, trust no one but yourself.
I am certainly not an engineer or a medical doctor so some of you people’s discussion is beyond me. But I am concerned about the environment yet understand the need to industrialise (hence understand the need for a trade-off in pollution) and I totally hate [what’s] coming from anti-Lynas and Pakatan: saying that the Lynas radiation is as bad as a nuclear reactor is absolute nonsense [and] sends innocent people into panic and fear. Please note I have never said Lynas waste is not toxic.
The industrial plant in Penang is basically a tin-smelting plant importing tin ore from Australia. All mineral ore contains naturally -radioactive substance and amang or tin tailing are radioactive. I understand that’s why Lynas waste is radioactive, from the rocks. Google “Malaysia Smelting Corporation”.
On the competency of AELB. Beside Lynas, several industries in Malaysia also require a “radiation” license from AELB. And I have not heard of any radiation disaster happening to those industries supervised by AELB. So maybe it’s an indication that AELB isn’t as incompetent as anti-Lynas made them out to be? AFAIK, MSC and the oil and gas industry are some of those supervised by AELB.
For the potential benefit to Malaysia, you could read this document:
As a quick reply, still busy with work.
A) I can’t seem to gather much from Googling MSC. I get the annual report, and that’s it. No other data.
B) From what I can dig, MSC utilises ore from Africa, cassiterite especially, basically SnO2. Lynas ore comes from carbonatite, which generally has higher (economically viable) concentrations of REEs and also, U and Th. While this applies in a general sense, I still need hard data on MSC (and Lynas) to prove such a general case.
C) While Lynas has been politicised and a lot of arguments out there are stupid, stupid arguments should not drown out reasonable arguments against Lynas. My understanding of Lynas is that they do not have a viable long-term waste management plan at all, not to mention not having access to some key documents (in particular, the rock sampling of Mt Weld ore) as mentioned in the IAEA report.
D) Yes trade off with pollution is key, the holy grail of process engineering of a complete cyclic process is still unattainable (probably never). Then again, my views on waste which cannot be modified anymore is to dump it in an unused, and uninhabited location, somewhere like a desert. The US throws a lot of their junk in the desert regions of Utah etc (now they are having headaches, cause the shale gas reservoir is there), too bad we don’t have any such areas.
E) If this was in theory, a free, one-world system, I think everyone would come to their senses to dump it in Mt Weld or a similar location, away from everyone.
F) Arguing that no accident has happened, therefore AELB is competent is fallacious at best. Then don’t make the mistake of leaving the waste lying around. My view of AELB is somewhere in the middle. They are OK, except for their laws/regulations on waste management. That to me is their biggest weakness, and one companies nowadays exploit.
I am either pro-Lynas or anti-Lynas. I am simply fed up with the lies and the hypocritical nature of some of those anti-Lynas folks and Pakatan politicians. What Pakatan is doing is dragging Malaysia back to the Dark Ages by rejecting science and in the process, kicking out foreign investors using fake science and making Malaysia a laughing stock to the world and deterring other FDI.
The Malaysia Smelting Corporation factory in Penang also imports radioactive raw material from Australia and produces radioactive waste and hence also needs a license from Malaysia’s Atomic Energy Licensing Board. You find it hard to find any info on MSC and that raises a very important question and that is, if DAP is so concerned about radioactive waste and its effect on Kuantan people, why is it keeping so quiet about MSC? Since Penangites specifically entrusted DAP to look after their welfare, shouldn’t DAP be asking the same type of questions it is asking about Lynas? Shouldn’t it be telling Penangites where MSC’s radioactive waste goes? If that is not double standard, then I don’t know what is.
MSC’s website clearly says she imports tin ore from Australia and I quote, “Traditionally a high-grade smelter of locally-mined alluvial concentrates, MSC has evolved into a world-class medium-grade tin smelter with more than 85% of its current feed comprising medium-grade tin concentrates and complex tin-bearing materials sourced from more than 20 countries worldwide including from Australia, Peru, United Kingdom, Portugal, China and Russia.” http://www.msmelt.com/ser_tinsmel.htm
I think I made my stance apparent enough. I do not give two hoots on what politicians have to say. Having said that, valid concerns still needs to addressed accordingly. The only way to get viable data is via parliament (and even then, they don’t provide everything on grounds of threatening national security and the OSA).
In terms of FDI, I personally believe that we need to do much much more (education, urban planning, transportation), before bringing in related FDIs to our economy. Having done the necessary prerequisites in other sectors, we do not even need FDIs in this trade.
I should reiterate my concerns again
A) where is the said waste going to go?
B ) Can certain key documents as used by the IAEA team be revealed to the public, in particular their methods in determining concentration of elements in the ores.
If anyone can give me a straight and satisfactory answer to those (I doubt you can), then finally this charade is over for me.
I do not wish to play politics with you (politics can go both ways, these facts, only one). But one thing I am very curious about your argument over the MSC. So why isn’t BN pushing for the DAP led Penang to reveal more information on the said MSC? If the state fails in their duty, isn’t it the pregorative of the opposition to push for it instead? I’m not defending MSC (that is another story), but I would like to hear you on that point.
On MSC, as mentioned, not a lot of data, this is the most I can gather from the annual report. “Central Africa provides a significant source of tin concentrates for our Butterworth’s smelter…”
In addition, I believe (need evidence) that they had sieved the ores one time before sending it to the plant for smelting. The difference between this and REE processing is that REE is heavy, Tin is light, thus tin can easily be separated in situ, before sending it for further processing (leaving the Th behind in monazite). REEs cannot and has to be processed in the plant (along with Th).
At least we have something in common, we both despise politicians. You don’t care what they say whereas I care about the effect of what they said. I hate seeing ignorant people being misled by those irresponsible politicians and go out to protest on the streets and under the hot sun thinking Lynas is some sort of nuclear reactor.
IMO Lynas should be decided based on proper scientific facts and data and politicians who knows nothing about science should just get lost. I am not technically competent enough so I am neither pro-Lynas nor anti-Lynas. The only thing I know is, I hate liars.
AFAIK, a professional engineer would look at an issue without any preconceived notion. But you seem to reject Lynas FDI even before you have all the data you needed. From a business angle, the ASM report does make business sense. You need business to generate income before you can talk about spending on education and transportation.
On your concern:
1. Where is the waste going? This is a valid concern. There are other industries in Malaysia generating radioactive waste beside Lynas. You only asked about Lynas whereas I like to know where all radioactive waste including MSC’s going does. And DAP is strangely not talking about those in Penang but only those in Kuantan.
2. On MSC. I believe BN can score points by dragging in MSC and embarrass DAP but is that good for an industries that generate income for Malaysia? BN has many faults but on this one, she earns my respect for not willing to risk our economy for cheap votes. On the other hand, DAP deliberately dragging in Lynas and the Wall Street Journal has already used Lynas as an example of the danger of investing in Malaysia. Is that good for Malaysia?
3. I don’t think how heavy the stuff is the issue. My understanding is, REE waste produced by Lynas should more correctly be classified as toxic chemical waste but not tin tailing.
The other industries in Malaysia producing radioactive waste is on Page 4
G) On the note of tin tailings. http://myais.fsktm.um.edu.my/11920/1/MJASMonicapdf.pdf
This journal should be of use. The key mineral to look out for is monazite. Generally the mean is 0.8% in samples, with some (one) peak(s). Following that, while the concentration of Th is not stated in the table, judging from the graph and available data, my best interpolation for Th is approx 10 wt%.
In total, the percentage of Th in amang is 0.08%, not to mentioned this is something not further refined. By contrast, the Th in the ore entering Kuantan pre-refined is 0.13-0.16%. Note however, that if we were to refine this amang further, the concentrations are expected to rise.
“In total, the percentage of Th in amang is 0.08%”
According to the director of AELB, the Monazite ore in our own Malaysian Tin Tailings contain between 4 to 7% of Thorium-232.
The thorium content of Monazite is variable and can be as high as 20% – 30%, although commercial Monazite sands typically contain 6% – 12% thorium oxide.
In addition to the Thorium, Monazite sands contain around 45% – 48% cerium, 24% lanthanum, 17% neodymium, 5% praseodymium, along with minor quantities of samarium, gadolinium and yttrium.
Europium concentrations tend to be low, in the region of 0.05%.
Dato’ Dr Looi
Dear Dr. Looi,
May I ask for your source? A journal will be good. I have posted up one such journal detailing the sampling and separation procedures, not to mention the results of the said experiment, and I believe it would be fair for you to post a similar source up. Where did the director get his numbers from? While I may agree that this is a rather specific case (Kampung Gajah site), it does serve as a valid indication of our approximations of said elements in amang. I, for one, do not trust who said what in some press conference. Personally, I can tell you from the field I’m coming from, there is a lot of iffy stuff said in press conferences that are not true.
My analysis of the available data shows that on average, 0.8% of the sample weight is of monazite. From that 0.8%, approximately 10% of it is Th. Hence, Th from the total weight of sample is 0.08%. While I agree that this varies considerably (note the highest 4.7% of monazite from sample), from the data, I can also see that the median is also low.
Moreover, as you can see from the analysis, Ce is 30% of monazite weight, La 10%, Nd 10% and Pr is 3%. Eu is 3% as well. *Note: all percentages here are wt% of monazite, not the sample itself.*
Ilminite and Zircon both have higher concentrations than monazite (max is 60% ilminite). However, both have negligible concentrations of Th and other potential radioactive nuclei.
According to the research paper by Ahmad Rahman and Songip published in 1989,
Uranium and Thorium Content in Malaysian Tin Tailing Minerals …..
Monazite Thorium = 2.0% to 9.0%
Uranium = 0.1% to 0.3%
I have only the excerpts of the article. Please look up the details in the original paper.
Dear Dr. Looi,
I believe this is the mentioned journal http://eprints.utm.my/4818/1/AhmadRahmanSongip1989_TheDigestionOfThoriumCake.pdf
Note the table 1 where you got your values from. The data for the said table is referenced from a secondary source by Ghazali et al (which I am unable to find further). Having said that, we cannot conclusively state that the overall concentration of Th is 2-9% of the amang.
Given table 1, while it is a very crude table and does not tell a lot, I am of the view that what the author is trying to state is that there exist 2-9% of Thorium in monazite ONLY, and not in amang in general. This is because he also gave values for both Zircon and Xenotime. It wouldn’t make sense if he just wanted to state the Th and U of amang in general. The critical information lacking here is the concentration of monazite in amang in general (it is highly unlikely that amang is pure monazite, and it will contain a lot of other clays/inerts etc, not to mention zircon and ilminite). This information is thus supplied by the other paper on Kampung Gajah site.
Further reinforcement to my interpretation is the values in the table to the values obtained in the Kampung Gajah site. In the previous paper, it is shown that monazite should contain about 10% of Th roughly (It is an approximation, and is subjected to a large margin of error). This overlaps (somewhat) with the range quoted by Ahmad Rahman Songip of 5-9%. Moreover, looking at the Zircon data/graph (note that Th has a very high atomic mass, and while it may show a very tiny peak at 3 on the EDX spectrum, the atomic mass can kick the %wt up to 1%), this interpretation fits as well.
Conclusively, without the proper context by Ghazali et al, or by other papers, this is debatable. But in so far, the numbers seems to be consistent to me. I’m not seeing any other differing values that is deviating from these sets of data.
Kong Kek Kuat says
@ Tan Sri Dato Seri Dr. Looi
I am surprised that your data were merely skimmed off from a paper. I am sorry if I will offend you, but, pardon me: Aren´t you supposed to be an expert?
KKK. I am surprised you ask such a ridiculous question. May I ask, how do you know the earth is flat or 1+1=2? Did you figure those out yourself or you skimmed off some textbook? If you did, you just re-invented the wheel and should be awarded a Nobel Prize. If you didn’t, it shows one of the ways present humans are so much more advanced compared to those living in caves is because, we human ACCUMULATE the knowledge of our forebears and don’t constantly have to re-invent the wheel.
The sad thing is, many of those Anti-Lynas folks disbelieve what’s clearly stated in standard textbooks used worldwide. They always think they are smarter than Einstein and try to re-invent the wheel and end up believing the world is flat and Lynas is as radioactive as a nuclear reactor.
I think there is a misunderstanding between your statement and mine.
What I said is ” Monazite Thorium = 2.0% to 9.0%” and not just “Amang Thorium”.
Your statement of 0.8% is also correct as “raw” amang contains ilmenite, zircon, silica and others in addition to the monazite ore.
1. Director of AELB
“The average activity of the monazite in Malaysian amang is 284 Bq/g (from uranium and thorium).”
This gives a value of about 67,000 ppm or about 6.7 % of combined uranium and thorium.
2. Nick Tsurikov
“About the comparison with Bukit Merah.
The main point (and a correct one) is that the ‘raw material’ is completely different.
Bukit Merah plant, was using tailings from tin/amang processing (sand called ‘monazite’) – containing about 6-7% thorium.
Lynas material has nothing in common (radiation-wise) with this monazite, as it contains only 0.15-0.16% thorium.
I have worked with monazite before and can personally confirm that gamma radiation level from it is proportionally higher in comparison with Mount Weld material.
Basically, (- the data is in all the Lynas documents that are now public, such as RIA etc -) if I work on the top of Lynas concentrate for the whole year (say 2000 hours), it is unlikely that I will be even classified as ‘radiation worker’ (in accordance with the regulations in Australia and Europe).
But, if I work on the top of pure monazite – I will be over the annual exposure limit for ‘radiation workers’ (of 20 mSv/yr) in about two and a half weeks (~100 hours). I hope this provides a useful comparison.
….. I have measured the activity of monazite ore and get values of as high as 300 microSv/hr…”
Kong Kek Kuat says
As unscientific as your comment is, perhaps you can´t tell the difference between knowledge and information, generating data and skimming data from a textbook without any due acknowledgement. In the scientific world, this is called unprofessional at best, mild plagiarism at worst. I´ll let the readers here decide where you and Tan Sri Dato Seri Dr. Haji Looi come from in this LAMP debate.
KKK. What do you know about science if, using your own exact words, “numbers are irrelevant” and Anti-Lynas idiots coming out with the ridiculous claim of “Lynas radiation is as bad as nuclear reactor” simply because both emit radiation? As I have already shown you, if radiation is the sole reason to reject Lynas, then other stuffs that also emit radiation like the banana and the human body will have to be rejected as well. But then, you don’t believe in scientific textbooks so is there any point in showing you which textbook that came from?
Kong Kek Kuat says
I just have to let in this last comment.
Yes, you definitely have shown that, when we compile all the pro-LAMP comments here on The Nut Graph (except this expert looihw, because he was basically and selectively just saying what was out there in the public already), we find the following:
1. Comments berputar belit around anti-Lynas people being, in your own words, “idiots”.
2. Comments berputar belit around anti-Lynas people being engaged in stupid politics. Come on dudes… You really think they are that stupid as Malaysians ah?
3. Chest-thumping about your scientific abilities or facts you supposedly have, but have come up with nothing thus far. You know what they say about chest-thumping people, don´t you?
4. Employing tactics typically used by our UMNO/BN lackeys, for example, simply saying this and that is a fact and then asking people to prove you wrong. Masyaallah… lu ingat semua orang Malaysia bodoh ka?
5. When it suits you, mengaku. And when it doesn´t suit you, tak mengaku.
Well, that´s basically it about these pro-LAMP people here on The Nut Graph. What else is new eh?
p.s. To the commenter I read somewhere here who apparently felt that one should write only in a single language, I have this to say to him: “This is part of what makes a Malaysian.”
KKK. You are very fond of twisting facts by only telling half the story. This is very typical of some Anti-Lynas folks who have never read any science textbook and think numbers are irrelevant. So allow me to get the record straight. I have never said ALL Anti-Lynas folks are idiots.
I only said….(ONLY) those Anti-Lynas folks who said Lynas’s radiations are as bad as nuclear reactor’s are idiots.
♥ 🙂 😉 ♥ 🙂 😉 ♥ 🙂 😉 ♥ 🙂 😉
CANCER AND LOW-DOSE RADIATION of 100 mSv.
After decades of intensive studies, UNSCEAR (United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation) now ADMITS THAT THEY WERE WRONG TO IMPLY THAT THERE IS NO SAFE LEVEL OF RADIATION with regards to cancer!
There IS a safe level and that is, RADIATION DOSES LESS THAN ABOUT 10 rem (100 mSv ) per year ARE SAFE.
Have a look at this link:
Excerpts of Article in Forbes:
UNSCEAR HAS FINALLY ADMITTED THAT WE CAN’T USE THE LNT (Linear No Threshold) HYPOTHESIS TO PREDICT CANCER FROM LOW DOSES OF RADIATION.
This does mean that the probability of a small dose of radiation-causing cancer is non-existent.
It also means the calculation of actual risk of cancer from radiation is a lot more complicated, since it becomes more than just multiplying.
The dose distribution is also important (whether it is all at once or over a prolonged period of time the dose occurs).
Since the LNT hypothesis does not apply to low-radiation doses, it is not supported by single event dosages of less than 100 mSv or by chronic annual dose levels of 200 mSv.
Above such dose rates, there does appear to be small increases in cancer, but the relationship is not linear until much higher doses occurs.
At levels of more than 500 mSv per event the relationship appears to be more or less linear.
It can be concluded that acute one-time exposure to 100 mSv does not result in an increase in the probability of cancer and that acute one-time doses of more than 100 mSv but less than 250 mSv may or may not result in a minuscule increase in lifetime cancer risk, depending on the circumstances, and as such can be safely ignored.
Dato Dr Looi
The guidelines put forth by the international organisations will not be able to monitor how LAMPS operates in Gebeng. On a practical side, they have zero enforcement power to make sure LAMPS will operate following the safety guidelines.
Name-throwing and number-crunching will just convince us less brainy Malaysians that Lynas is not trustworthy and needs a spin doctor to promote it to allow it to operate on Malaysian soil.
You are right that the IAEA does not supervise Lynas. So what you said is a valid concern. But you would have to agree that those anti-Lynas folks and especially Pakatan politicians implying that Lynas is radioactively as dangerous as a nuclear reactor are [telling] absolute lies to confuse and frighten the ignorant raykat. That’s being irresponsible.
Back to AELB which is the Malaysian agency entrusted to supervise Lynas in terms of radiation. If you have friends or contacts working in the oil & gas industries or the Malaysia Smelting Corporation in Penang, you can try asking them how competent or incompetent AELB is. If your concern is valid, I am sure we would have seen many oil refineries blowing up by now.
Furthermore, Lim Guan Eng goes on record to say AELB is a very professional and competent authority and should sue anyone who says otherwise. Surely Lim Guan Eng can’t say AELB is very trustworthy with supervising the MSC factory in Penang and then turn around and say AELB is untrustworthy with Lynas, right? So if DAP is so confident about AELB, are your worries about AELB misplaced?
Kong Kek Kuat says
[…] the issue of LAMP is actually not about numbers, but transparency. As the author to this column wrote, there is a level of opacity which just doesn’t tally with the claims made or actions taken by Lynas. Hence, whatever numbers are irrelevant. Admittedly, the anti-LAMP people are not very articulate with their views, and do not come from a background which enables them to go head-to-head with […] Lynas [proponents]. But they do know, deep down inside, that something is not right. I´ll let you do the thinking.
[…] One of the two favourite reports of the day [cited by Lynas proponents] is the IAEA Report which is specifically only on the construction of LAMP, and not on LAMP as a whole or part. All other points made in that report are just general points on what a good prospective RE plant should be — which means the report is applicable to any RE plant around the world. The IAEA could not study and report on LAMP because LAMP was still under construction at that time. You can bet all your life savings that they will not be asking the IAEA to come back in for further studies now that the LAMP is fully operational.
The other favourite so-called “report” is the one by the ASM-NPC. The moment you look at the title to the so-called report, you will see that it has, or is intended to have, a sales pitch on why LAMP is good for you. And if and when you actually read it, you will find a tiny chapter (in my scientific eyes) generally reporting on LAMP. How tiny? Check it out yourself, and you´ll have a good laugh at the sales team at the ASM-NPC. More views are available here and here, especially some of those by commenters KK Aw and hclau.
KKK. […] I had earlier explained to you, after the IAEA report recommended the need to better inform the people, that the government set up a public forum to better inform the local community about Lynas. One of the biggest was held on 7 May 2012 at KL’s Renaissance Hotel and those invited as panellists were foreign experts and prominent anti-Lynas [representatives] like Wong Tack and Fuziah. The experts came to face the local community and answer any questions they had. But not a single Anti-Lynas folk dared to face the local community proving [to me] they do not want to answer any questions. So it’s those against Lynas who do not want transparency.
KKK. On your point regarding ASM-NPC reports being a sales pitch. Can you please tell us, if there is no money to be made, why are Western countries rushing to set up their own rare earth refineries? Are they all being stupid or [is this] one of many misinformation […] against Lynas? […]
Kong Kek Kuat says
I actually charge quite steeply for consultations and lectures. Perhaps if you would state your real name and other personal details here, I might give you a free lecture on why there is no money to be made for Malaysia.
Phua Kai Lit says
Pro-Lynas supporters, welcome to this crowd (of right-wing cranks):
It’s a debate between people using bomoh science and those using standard science textbooks that are used worldwide.
Phua Kai Lit says
One final comment:
1) The right-wing cranks
2) The corporate shills
3) The industry-funded academicians and scientists
4) The bought politicians
5) The oligarchs
Dear Phua, what did Basel Action Network says about Lynas in particular?
I would love to hear arguments based on proper science from those who are against Lynas instead of half-baked science and rhetorical statements. And how polluting is Lynas compared to other industries with similar radiation problems.
I fully agree with what you have said.
It is really refreshing to realise that there are still Malaysians like you who are smart enough to use logic rather than emotion to analyse the Lynas controversy.
Thanks and warmest regards,
Phua Kai Lit says
Sorry, forgot to add this link to my final comment:
The Basel Action Network and its work to protect public health in developing countries: http://www.ban.org/about/
Gerhard Schmidt of Oeko Institute said:
# The WLP waste with the highest radioactive content would be by a factor of more than 1,000 above internationally-accepted protection levels for the release of radioactive materials from regulatory control (Beyond Regulatory Concern, BRC level).
# Even if diluted 1:1 with gypsum, the WLP waste is 200-fold above those internationally-accepted levels!
# Even the less contaminated wastes, FGD and NUF, are above that level and require 1:4 resp. 1:9 mixing before they can be released (assuming that the material properties meet the necessary requirements and their toxic by-product content is below any non-radiological environmental concern).
The operation of the plant will result in the generation of three major residue streams, namely:
1. Water Leach Purification (WLP) residue from the cracking and separation process. This is the only slightly radioactive residue at 6 Bq/g m or about 5.7 Bq/g of Thorium-232.
2. Flue Gas Desulphurisation (FGD) residue from the waste gas treatment system (scrubber) ~ 12 ppm.
3. Neutralisation Underflow (NUF) solids from the wastewater treatment process ~ 7 ppm of Thorium-232.
BOTH THE FGD AND NUF HAS LESS THAN 12 ppm (parts per million) of THORIUM-232.
MALAYSIAN SOIL HAS AN AVERAGE OF 20 ppm of Thorium.
SO, ACCORDING TO OEKO, if 12 ppm are above that level and require 1:4 resp. 1:9 mixing before they can be released, WHAT ABOUT ALL THE SOIL IN THE WHOLE OF MALAYSIA WHICH HAS 20 ppm OF THORIUM?
THE WHOLE OF MALAYSIA is above internationally-accepted protection levels for the release of radioactive materials from regulatory control (Beyond Regulatory Concern, BRC level).
ALL MALAYSIANS HAVE TO MIGRATE TO GERMANY OR SWIM TO AUSTRALIA!
THIS IS JUST PURE INSANITY ! ! !
AS REPORTED IN THE FZ SUNDAY during a videoconferencing with Gerhard Schmidt of OEKO Institute.
Schmidt said, the WLP waste produced by Lynas, with the highest radioactive content, would be 1,000 TIMES ABOVE INTERNATIONALLY-ACCEPTED PROTECTION LEVELS for the release of radioactive materials from regulatory control.
Comment by Nick Tsurikov, the renown international radiation safety expert who is the co-author of the IAEA safety report:
“GERHARD SCHMIDT IS SO OBVIOUSLY WRONG that it is not even funny.
“The WLP waste produced by Lynas would be 6 to 7 times above internationally-accepted protection levels for the release of radioactive materials from regulatory control.
“I HAVE NO IDEA WHATSOEVER WHERE HE GOT ‘1,000 TIMES’ FROM…
“But I would like to respectfully note that a researcher/scientist from Germany is unlikely to have more knowledge and understanding of the issue than numerous reputable UN and other organisations, such as the:
– World Health Organisation,
– UN Environment Programme,
– International Labor Organisation,
– International Atomic Energy Agency,
– Pan-American Health Organisation etc. etc.,
“Which ALL agreed once again in the 2011 ‘basic safety standards’ that the materials below 1 Bq/g are beyond regulatory concern.
“If there is some other international opinion, it surely is not accepted by the vast majority of the world…”
Dato’ Dr Looi
Hi Dr Looi,
Thanks for the very detailed explanation […]. [Allow me] to simplify it.
On Lynas waste with the highest amount of radiation:
Gerhard Schmidt of OEKO Institute says it’s 1,000 bq/g
PKR’s Fuziah says it is 62 bq/g
United Nation’s IAEA says it’s 6.2 bq/g
Lim Kit Siang says it is 6.2 bq/g
Either Gerhard and Fuziah get to receive the Nobel prize for science or the United Nations and Lim Kit Siang are total idiots.
“…a gamma dose rate of 2 to 3 μSv/h can be measured, adding up to approx. 26 mSv/a if a person were to stay for a whole year (8,760 h/a).
This dose would exceed the protection level for workers of 20 mSv/a, exceed accepted protection levels for the general public .. of 1 mSv/a by a factor of 26.”
Coefficients given by IAEA is 0.39 microSv/hr/Bq/g for radiation at 1m from a pile of Thorium, and by UNSCEAR is 0.604 microSv/hr/Bq/g for radiation dose from an infinite field of Thorium.
If a worker is at 1 metre from a pile of Lynas waste, he would be exposed to a dose of:
0.39 x 6 = 2.34 uSv/h
AND SINCE NO WORKER CAN EVER STAND IN FRONT OF A PILE OF RADIOACTIVE WASTE 24 HOURS A DAY, 365 DAYS A YEAR, WE CANNOT SAY THAT:
the annual dose is “approx. 26 mSv/a if a person were to stay for a whole year (8,760 h/a) in this vicinity”!
This shows that our learned friend Gerhard Schmidt has absolutely no idea how the dosage workers are exposed to, is calculated.
WE NORMALLY TAKE THE MAXIMUM HOURS THAT A WORKER CAN BE EXPOSED TO BE 2,000 HOURS/yr.
A WORKER NORMALLY WORKS 40 HOURS PER WEEK, GIVING A TOTAL OF 2,080 hrs/yr.
This is already an overestimation for no worker would be able to stand at 1 metre from a pile of Lynas waste all the time while he [or she] is working!
So the actual dose that a worker at Lynas receives cannot be more than:
2.34 x 2,000 = 4.68 mSv per year.
This is well below that of the protection level for workers of 20 mSv/a as prescribed by ICRP.
A study by Lynas showed that the majority of the workers would be subjected to a maximum of 300 hrs/yr of exposure at 1m to a large pile of WLP and not 8,760 hrs/yr as claimed by Gerhard Schimidt!
The claim that the dose exceeds accepted protection levels for the general public of 1 mSvs/a by a factor of 26 is ANOTHER SICK JOKE BECAUSE NO MEMBER OF THE PUBLIC WILL BE ALLOWED BY THE LYNAS SECURITY TO STAND NEXT TO A LARGE PILE OF LYNAS “WASTE” 24 hrs A DAY FOR 365 DAYS IN A YEAR!
A lot of people do not know the various methods of calculating the specific activity of the radionuclides, especially of the series radionuclide.
There are two ways of doing this, one is the old-fashioned way which uses total activity and the other is the modern, currently in use, and internationally-accepted one and this uses only the concentration of the mother radionuclide.
Old: “Since each atom of Th-232 decays into 11 other atoms of other radionuclides (12 atoms involved), each Bq of Th-232 was assumed to be multiplied by 10.
(Bismuth-212 decays either into Po-212 or to Tl-208 which then decays into Pb-208..so Po-212 and Tl-208 is considered as 1 Bq only).
If a material contains 400 ppm of thorium – its specific activity is calculated as follows:
a) Outdated method – 400 x 4.09 (specific activity of Th-232) x 10 (number of radio nuclides in the thorium decay chain) = 16,360 Bq/kg, or 16.4 Bq/g
b) International standard (IAEA, AELB and Australia) – 400 x 4.09 = 1,630 Bq/kg, or 1.64 Bq/g.
The anti-Lynas folk are now using the old way of looking at specific activity to confuse the people.
Because of all this, they claim that the Lynas “waste” is not 6.2 Bq/g but 62 Bq/g and Lynas has been misleading the people about the radioactivity.
The old method has been discontinued internationally since about 1997.
When we use the standard description “Lynas waste has only 6.2 Bq/g “, we have already factored in the radiation from all the daughter radionuclides.
E.g. the dose coefficients given by IAEA of 0.39 microSv/hr/Bq/g for radiation at 1m from a pile of Thorium, and by UNSCEAR of 0.604 microSv/hr/Bq/g for radiation dose from an infinite field of Thorium.
DEMANDS THAT WE USE THE STANDARD WAY OF DESCRIBING SPECIFIC ACTIVITY i.e. 1 Bq of activity in both a series or single non-series decay means 1 atom of the mother radionuclide decaying.
If we were to use 62 Bq/g, we have to divide all the coefficients by a factor of 10.
KKK, I think we should just let this medical doctor turned nuclear physicist Dr Looi and […] TNG be.
Dr Looi is only able to regurgitate figures, TNG is only able to harp on one recurrent point: anti Lynas people said Lamp is as radioactive as a nuclear power plant. They have some glaringly clear reasons in defending Lamp on our soil.
Good will overcome evil eventually.
Bamboo. That’s the best piece of advice from you. When it comes to dealing with dangerous industrial factories, it’s best left to people who can make decisions based on proven scientific facts and rationality and not people who couldn’t even tell the difference between a metal factory and a nuclear reactor.
Just to share this…
The Fukushima Syndrome – Japan – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-0Rx-GoLIs
“A person’s life is not about money…”
You be the judge.
Do keep up the fight.
Things should be put into perspective because even rocks and banana are radioactive. In terms of radiation, Lynas is about 60 times more radioactive than banana but a couple of billion times less radioactive than Fukushima. Furthermore, Lynas has promised and if they can prove to us they can reduce the radiation level down to edible food level, should one still worry about radiation level?