Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Mahathir did not reveal all about the Radioactive Waste issue.

By: Choo Sing Chye
24 - 5 - 2010

Tun Dr. Mahathir had at last admitted, but not all, what the foreign experts (engaged by the residents 27 years ago) had been saying all along i.e., the danger posed by the radioactive waste from the Asian Rare Earth (ARE) company near Bukit Merah and the waste dumps near Papan was indeed genuine and serious.

What Mahathir said a few weeks ago in the Star Online (15-5-2010): "In Malaysia, we do have nuclear waste which perhaps the public is not aware of."
The answer is that the public is well aware and informed of this nuclear waste and the danger it posed. This was the reason why they took ARE to court.On the 11th of July 1992, more than 3,000 residents from Menglembu, Bukit Merah, Papan and other affected areas were present at the Ipoh High Court where the judge, Mr. Peh Swee Chin granted eight plaintiffs an injunction to restrain ARE from operating and storing toxic and radioactive waste. ARE was given 14 days to comply with the order.

Subsequently ARE appealed to the Supreme Court. Barely a month on the 5th of August 1992, the Supreme Court allowed the application by ARE to suspend the Ipoh Court's order to cease operations pending an appeal by the company.

The parent company in Japan, Mitsubishi Kasei Corporation immediately wrote a letter to the residents expressing regrets over the application by ARE.

The letter reads, "…since the court ordered the plant to be closed down, we believe that the plant should not continue its operation without the harmonization with the local people, whether this ruling is right or wrong."

"Consequently, we believe that ARE should not apply for stay of execution of the injunction to stop operation, etc."

On the 23th December 1993, ARE finally won its appeal in the Supreme Court. Lord President Tun Abdul Hamid Omar order that the Ipoh High Court decision on the 11th of July 1992 be set aside with costs.

Then on the 19th January 1994, to everyone surprise, ARE announced that it was closing its plant in Bukit Merah. And according to them, the closing of its plant was inevitable because of the unavailability of raw material.

Mahathir: "We have to bury the Amang, a by-product from tin mining."

The Truth is, Amang (a tin trailing which is found in an abundance in Kinta Valley) is not buried but is used as a raw material from which Monazite (high value mineral) is extracted. Monazite is a rare earth Othophosphate, containing significant amounts (up to 10%) of the radioactive element Thorium Hydroxide which is the end product. Thus, radioactive waste Thorium Hydroxide is buried not Amang.

Mahathir: "It is not radioactive but it is not good to handle. We had to bury it in Perak, deep in the ground.
Thorium Hydroxide waste derived from Amang is radioactive! The radioactivity present in the waste is from the naturally occurring Thorium and Uranium series which will take millions of years to decay.

Mahathir: "But the place is still not safe, and we have almost one square mile that is dangerous."

The public already knew that! Twenty seven years ago, Dr. Sadao Ichikawa, a professor from Saitama University in Japan found highly dangerous level of radiation. On the surface of on the drums at the dumpsite produced a reading of 9,000 urad/hr and on the nearby farm the reading was 140 urad/hr.

The mandatory level agreed between the Perak State government and ARE was only 200 milli-urad/hr.

Mahathir: (He) did not know exactly where in Perak the Amang was buried. "Maybe it is a national secret but I know for a fact that we buried this activated material," he said in a press conference yesterday at the Al-Bukhary Foundation.

In sum. after a grueling decade long battle against the Barisan Nasional government led by Mahathir himself, the people of Perak should be told of the whereabouts of these alleged illegal dumps.

The act of keeping these radioactive waste dumps a secret is downright immoral.

1 comment:

sanjay varma said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.