Mahathir Likens Protests Against Lynas To Penang Bridge Objections




Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad has likened the protest against Lynas' rare earth processing plant in Gebeng, Kuantan to the objections when the government first mooted to construct the Penang bridge
"Remember the Penang bridge? When we wanted to build the Penang bridge, there was so much opposition created... claiming that it was a waste of money
"And then they want to build another bridge and then build another tunnel," he told journalists in Kuala Lumpur today
The construction of the Penang bridge began in 1982 and was completed in 1985. The construction of a second link, the Sultan Abdul Halim Madzam Shah Bridge, began in 2008 and was completed in 2013

The Penang government is now mulling a third link through an undersea tunnel
Mahathir was responding to criticism against the government for extending Lynas' operating licence for another six months albeit with more stringent conditions
"We sent experts to the place. The experts said there is no danger. But we keep insisting that there is a danger. This is difficult for the government to decide
"The people's popular view is one thing. Expert's view is another thing. Do you go according to the popular view or do you go according to the expert's view
"If you go according to the popular view, there is nothing you can do because every time we propose to do something, there will be some people who are against it," he said
Earlier today around 500 people gathered in Kuantan to protest the government's extension of Lynas' licence, claiming that the Pakatan Harapan government had broken its promise by doing so
Mahathir stressed that the Lynas facility was not the same as a nuclear power plant
"It's not Chernobyl. Chernobyl yes, it's very dangerous. This is not going to be dangerous
"And the people who work there, 700 qualified people, they have not complained. But somebody, some neighbours complained," he said
Mahathir said while the experts have said that the waste accumulated at Lynas' facility was "not dangerous", he acknowledged the build-up which could lead to a "big concentration"
"We are ready to disperse it but we cannot export. Nobody wants to accept it. and we cannot throw it into the sea because the fish will die if it's true
"... we can disperse some of the waste in places so that the concentration is not that big," he said
The government on Aug 15 announced the extension to Lynas' licence but set a condition for it to come up with a construction and financing plant for a permanent deposit facility to store its waste. "The construction of the PDF must be expedited to minimise the risk from the WLP stockpile that is now at more than 580,000 tonnes at the temporary residue storage facility which is exposed to major floods," said the Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB)
AELB also required Lynas to shift its "cracking and leaching" phase of operations, which produces the radioactive waste, to overseas within four years
It also asked Lynas to terminate its efforts to commercialise those waste by diluting them and turning them into fertiliser and instructed for funds for this research to be channelled to the government as collateral. - Mkini

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