Some things just require a higher level of accountability

Some things just require a higher level of accountability

In one word, radioactive. In two words, Bukit Merah.

Rare earth mining and refining has a unenviable association with serious environmental problems. After the tragedy in Bukit Merah, caused by the lax radioactive waste management by rare earth refiner Asian Rare Earth Sdn Bhd, the Malaysian public is understandably very concerned and demands assurance that radioactive wastes from the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP) in Gebeng, Kuantan is properly disposed of.

Lynas has repeatedly maintained it “has successfully met all licence conditions relating to operations and environmental performance” and that it is “strongly committed to open and transparent communication with all our stakeholders”.

 

Many remain unassured. Why is that?

For starters, after more than five years in operation, Lynas has yet to identify the location of a permanent deposit facility (PDF) for the storage of its radioactive wastes. Neither has there been any public notifications, publications or  announcements by the Atomic Energy Licensing Board of Malaysia (AELB) on the issue. Note that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in its 2011 report had recommended that a PDF be identified before an operating licence is awarded to LAMP.

Malaysia’s Land Code forbids the usage of any land as PDF of radioactive wastes. As AELB should be keenly aware of that, this indicates the regulator’s acceptance of Lynas’ bold claims that it could safely recycle all its wastes, including the radioactive water leached purification (WLP) waste. Given the nature of radioactive wastes, is that even possible?

 

Lynas’ engagement with stakeholders is arguably also lacking.

True Lynas has held exhibitions, organised some community activities, and opened its doors for visits from the press and stakeholders. But many questions remain unanswered.

There has been repeated calls for Lynas to have a more in-depth dialogue with stakeholders, such as via a public forum, to address issues of concern, especially its radioactive waste management. Lynas CEO Amanda Lacaze had seemed open to the idea of a public forum after the International Trade and Industry Minister suggested it in 2016, giving the impression it plans to conduct such a forum, “preferably before year-end”.

When the issue of a public forum was pursued again, Lacaze pointed to the company’s website: “Information on our residue management is available in the following sections of our website www.lynascorp.com — Commitments & Responsibilities / Residue Management, and News / Media Briefing at Community Event.” (Note: the website’s layout and sections have changed since.)

Alas, some information found on its website raises even more questions!

Notably, the website does not state the volume of wastes Lynas produces. Formulation of its soil enhancer, called CondiSoil, could not be found either.

In its Radioactive Waste Management Plan (RWMP) submitted on 30 December 2011, Lynas had proposed to recycle all its solid wastes into industrial by-products. It had shared an impressive timeline of R&D and commercialisation over 2012-2015. Key products/applications included plaster board and cement manufacturing, road base, fertilizers, and soil remediation. As CondiSoil now seems to be the sole residue-derived product on its plate, Lynas needs to share more on how this product helps it to recycle its radioactive wastes.

If Lynas is being seen a villain, it has no one to blame but itself. Turning a deaf ear to the repeated requests for a dialogue from the community LAMP is operating in is a demonstration of haughty arrogance at best, or worse, hiding something that cannot stand up to exposure. Given the lack of disclosure and details on CondiSoil, Lynas looks suspiciously like trying to pull wool over the public’s eyes.  

Yes legally, Lynas has complied with all the required rules and regulations, for now. AELB concurs.

But morally, Lynas has failed us.

Unless Lynas can assure us to the contrary, it will remain accused of processing rare earths in Malaysia — some 4,000 nautical miles from where they are mined, no less — only so that it can leave us the toxic wastes because its own country does not want them while being handsomely compensated (e.g. 12-year tax holiday) by our own government for the deed! Indeed, the distrust for Lynas has made the people to also distrust the authorities charged with protecting us from radioactive harm. They failed us re Bukit Merah; they could just fail us again — that it the fear.

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Is Lynas’ handling of radioactive wastes satisfactory?

Is Lynas’ handling of radioactive wastes satisfactory?

Say radiation and the image of contorted babies with missing or extra limbs come to mind — not a pretty picture.

Though radiation has plenty of safe practical uses as well — think x-rays, sterilisation of medical equipment, smoke detectors and even food irradiation — “radioactive exposure” connotes Fukushima horrors before all else.

Thus, it is understandable that when Australian Lynas Corp set up a rare earth refinery on our shores where it will use radioactive feedstock and generate tonnes of radioactive waste, many were alarmed and protests swiftly followed.

Today, many still find Lynas’ solution for its radioactive wastes unsatisfactory.

How dangerous are these wastes?

Based on Lynas’ its Radioactive Waste Management Plan (RWMP) submitted on 30 December 2011, every tonne of rare earth oxide it produces will be an accompanied by 13.41 tonnes of solid residues — 7.93 tonnes Neutralisation Underflow Residue (NUF), 2.63 tonnes Flue Gas Desulfurisation (FGD) and 2.85 tonnes Water Leached Purification Residue (WLP).

After the visit by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Review team in 2014, the NUF and FGD with radioactivity below 1 Bq/g were dropped from the regulatory control of Atomic Energy Licensing Board of Malaysia (AELB). They were classified as clear waste and placed under the Department of Environment’s (DOE) purview.

The worrisome residue it WLP, which has a radioactivity of 7.98 Bq/g. In 2014, an experiment to extract the radioactive Thorium from WLP conducted by Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) proved to be non-viable. However, the experiment revealed that the radioactivity of WLP was much higher than that declared earlier by Lynas.

Lynas’ website says: “Our residues are not wastes – they have tremendous potential as safe commercial products”. In its RWMP, Lynas had proposed to recycle all its solid wastes into industrial by-products. It even had an impressive timeline of R&D and commercialisation over 2012-2015. Key products/applications included plaster board and cement manufacturing, road base, fertilizers, and soil remediation. In fact, Lynas had in many occasions said there would be little need for a permanent deposit facility (PDF) for its wastes as they would all be recycled!

This picture demonstrates the comparative size of LAMP’s waste to that of a full-sized adult

To date, nothing has been commercialised. Lynas still appears to be struggling to find a solution for its fast-growing solid residues. It all boils down to a single product, a soil enhancer called CondiSoil, for which it received SIRIM’s seal of approval last year.

However, the proposed mixture of 1:2:7 of WLP: NUF: FGD will leave behind large quantities of unused radioactive WLP for lack of FGD to go with it to create CondiSoil — using all the FGD to make CondiSoil would only use up 13.18% of WLP. This begs the question of what Lynas intends to do with the remaining 86.82% of its radioactive WLP? A PDF would be needed to safely store it, no?

One also can’t help but wonder if the ratio was such as to enable the WLP to be watered down to under 1 Bq/gm so that it will no longer be considered radioactive by AELB. Recycling of radioactive wastes through dilution is never allowed or practiced anywhere else in the world!

Moreover, to entrust and seek approval from SIRIM on Condisoil’s safe usage is totally misplaced. SIRIM is the body that appraises and evaluates proposed industrial standards drafted by relevant professional bodies before they become Malaysian Standards. Does the SIRIM approval mean CondiSoil would become the Malaysian Standard for recycled radioactive wastes? Would this set a precedent among other industries churning out radioactive wastes to also “mix” their radioactive wastes, give it a fancy name and pass it off as a safe recycled industrial by-product?

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A decade on, the opposition against Lynas is still strong

A decade on, the opposition against Lynas is still strong

Malaysia is a warm and welcoming county. Rarely does her people rally in force against a corporation. Rarer still that such active protests persist for more than a decade, unrelenting. Anti-Lynas sentiments emerged soon after the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP) project was approved in 2007. This was not unexpected, as no one wants to risk radioactive exposure from having a potentially hazardous rare earth refinery in one’s backyard. However, the slight negative sentiment and concern escalated to numerous nationwide demonstrations by 2012 when the plant commenced operations. Today, the anti-Lynas movement is still very much alive.

image source earthfirstjournal.org

Why such ire over Lynas?
Here’s some background.

April 2007

the Malaysian Minister of Finance approved Australian-based Lynas Corp’s Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP) project with a package of special incentives, including “pioneer” status and a 12-year tax holiday.

February 2008

the State of Pahang Department of Environment (DOE) approved the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for LAMP to be located in Gebeng, Kuantan. The Atomic Energy Licensing Board of Malaysia (AELB) approved the Siting and Construction Licence following an approval recommendation from the Licensing Division of the AELB. The Kuantan Local Council also approved the Development Order application.

January 2012

AELB approved a temporary operating licence (TOL) for LAMP. This was challenged by residents in court on the grounds that it breached the Environmental Quality Act 1974, among others. The issuance of TOL was withheld pending the outcome of a hearing of an appeal by a group of residents to the Science, Technology and Innovation Minister in April.

September 2012

LAMP was granted a two-year TOL effective 3 September 2012, with a safe deposit of US$50 million and five conditions, including disclosure of a permanent deposit facility (PDF) for the storage of the plant’s radioactive water leached purification (WLP) waste.

Note that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in its 2011 report had recommended that a PDF be identified before an operating licence is awarded to LAMP. AELB had granted a temporary stay on this condition; Lynas promised to comply within 10 months of LAMP’s operations. The TOL was arguably granted on the excuse that AELB needed to collect data on the various areas of LAMP’s operations including wastes produced.

As of today, Lynas has yet to identify the location of the PDF. Neither has there been any public notifications, publications or announcements by AELB on the issue.

LAMP entered production in 2013, producing 1,089 tonnes of rare-earth oxides in the first quarter of 2014, with a target of 11,000 tonnes per annum.

Despite the numerous protects, Lynas was on 2 September 2014 issued a two-year Full Operating Stage License (FOSL) by AELB. The licence was renewed in September 2016 for another three years despite calls to examine the non fulfilment of terms and written undertakings by Lynas to either recycle the radioactive WLP waste into industrial by-products or ship them overseas.

LAMP is designed to operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 8,000 hours a year, with a lifespan of 20 years. Each hour it produces approximately 36 tonnes ( dry weight) of solid wastes. The total volume of solid wastes that will be produced by LAMP prior to its decommissioning after 20 years is approximately 5.76 million tonnes! To put this figure into perspective, it is 15.6 times the weight of the steel used in the Petronas twin towers. The waste produced by LAMP over 20 years can fill Bukit Jalil Stadium 18 times over!

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Bungalow in the Sky

Bungalow in the Sky

Real estate is more than just selling bungalows and semi-ds on land. It is also about selling bungalows and semi-ds in the sky.

Recently, a client by the name of Ali asked me, “Do you have any new condo property to recommend?” He wanted to purchase his first (new) home for his own-stay with future investment potential. Ali’s family were a family of 4 with 1 more child on the way. Therefore, they were searching for at least a 3-bedroom unit. They’re preferred location is in Petaling Jaya as Ali works in Sunway and his wife, Siti works in Subang.

I recommended this project and invited them to the sales gallery. The sales gallery itself has a luxurious and cozy feel. Upon entering the sales gallery, they felt relaxed and comfortable. The children marvelled at the life-size scale model and were left to be self-entertained at the kid’s section. I took them on a walkthrough around the sales gallery and in the show units.

The project is located in the heart of Petaling Jaya. It is accessible by and to 5 major highways: Lebuhraya Damansara-Perdana (LDP), Lebuhraya Persekutuan (Federal Highway), New Pantai Expressway (NPE), KESAS, and New Klang Valley Expressway (NKVE). The project is also surrounded by matured neighbourhoods with comprehensive amenities – Paradigm Mall, Sunway Pyramid, Sri Emas International School, SJKC Yuk Chai, Taylor’s University (Lakeside Campus), Sunway Medical Center, Glenmarie LRT, Kelana Jaya LRT, etc.

In addition to its strategic location, the project is surrounded by nature. From the sky, the bungalows and semi-ds have a unique calm blue lakefront view of a 15 acres lake. It also has a majestic green view of the Subang National Golf Club.

The project has an array of facilities. The indoor facilities are gym, multipurpose room, theatre room, and more. The outdoor facilities are a 6-lane Olympic length infinity lap pool, 210 meter Lazy River, 500 meter jogging track, and much more. The bungalows and semi-ds in the sky also come with facilities in the sky: sky gym, sky jacuzzi, sky lounge, and observation deck @ roof top.

As its concept is bungalows and semi-ds in the sky; the units are either standalone or 2 units side-by-side. The units range from 2 to 5 bedrooms. Built-up sizes range from 892 sq. ft. to 1,788 sq. ft.

  • 892-927 sq. ft. = 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms
  • 1105-1154 sq. ft. = 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms
  • 1087 sq. ft. = 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms
  • 1232 sq. ft. = 3+1 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms
  • 1233 sq. ft. = 3+1 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms
  • 1596 sq. ft. = 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms
  • 1788 sq. ft. = 5 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms
  • 1788 sq. ft. (Dual Key) = 3 bedrooms, 1 studio, 4 bathrooms

Buyers have the options to furnish their units attached with multiple easy ownership schemes and additional rewards.

Ali and Siti were very impressed with the show unit and the sales gallery that they’ll invite their family and friends to the upcoming Reapfield event at the sales gallery.

Names have been changed for story purpose

Register your interests and RSVP in the Google Form below

or you can call/Whatsapp Ian Fan @ +60123447550

 

Alliance Bank Now Offers 3.5% p.a. for Alliance SavePlus!

Alliance Bank Now Offers 3.5% p.a. for Alliance SavePlus!

Stretch Your Money Even Further With Alliance SavePlus’ high interest rate

Managing and saving your money is crucial to long-term financial health and personal well-being.

The recent Overnight Policy Rate (OPR) hike by Bank Negara Malaysia is especially good news to the man on the street, as many banks have revised their interest rates upwards, resulting in higher profits in savings. High interest rates equal higher returns for every Ringgit that you save.

There are also other aspects to consider, such as the flexibility to access your money without compromising the interest earned.

A high-interest, liquid option

The Alliance SavePlus Account now offers up to 3.5% per annum on your total balance. This is 25 basis points more than the average current or savings account in Malaysia, and higher than a one-month fixed deposit board rate.

With the Alliance SavePlus Account, you don’t have to worry about incurring penalties for early withdrawals as it offers you unlimited access to your money anytime, anywhere.

On top of that, you get to enjoy waiver on transaction fees when you save with Alliance SavePlus Account. All you have to do is maintain a minimum of RM10,000 in the account and voila, you can perform fund transfers and ATM withdrawals for free!

For a better idea on how Alliance SavePlus works, let’s take a look at the following table:

Total Account Balance in Alliance SavePlus Account Benefits
RM0 – RM20,000 No transaction fees*
RM20,001 – RM100,000 1.8% per annum interest rate + no transaction fees
Above RM100,000 3.5% per annum interest rate + no transaction fees

* Terms and conditions apply.

Source: Alliance Bank

How the Alliance SavePlus Account works

Helping you achieve your financial goals

It is important to choose a bank account that matches your savings goals, and the Alliance SavePlus is one such no-frills bank account.

It lets you enjoy great returns on your money and the flexibility to withdraw your cash in case of emergencies.

The Alliance SavePlus Account is open to all Malaysians, permanent residents and non-residents of Malaysia aged 18 years old and above. Existing Alliance Bank current/savings account holders with online banking facilities may log on to allianceonline to easily open your Alliance SavePlus Account.

For more information on how to apply for an Alliance SavePlus Account, please visit www.alliancebank.com.my, drop by any of our nearest branches or get in touch with our Contact Centre at 03-5516 9988.

Are you too Blunt to know him?

Are you too Blunt to know him?

When James Blunt came into the spotlight fourteen years ago with nothing more than mopped hair and a guitar strapped across his waist, he was nothing more than another musician striving to make it big in the already competitive music scene in the mid 00’s. However, “You’re Beautiful”, his 3rd single off his debut album, Back to Bedlam, shot him up into the No. 1 spot in the Billboard charts, catapulting him into what seemed to be another soft rock sensation.

Fourteen years later, many Malaysians scratched their heads when he is mentioned.

Who is James Blunt?

James Hillier Blount, better known as James Blunt, was born in 22nd February 1974 in Hampshire, UK. Having graduated from the University of Bristol using a military bursary, he went on to serve for his country for 6 years, even participating in the Kosovo Wars and rising to the ranks of Captain.

After serving, he went on to sign with a recording company, and adopted Blunt as his stage name. After Back to Bedlam, he has released four more studio albums, including his latest album, The Afterlove, propelling himself into the mainstream pop music scene once more. Both his singles, Love Me Better and Bartender, echo his 2005 form with his melancholic singing and modern vibes, allowing him to stay relevant in this already competitive music scene.

You’re Beautiful?

When the song, “You’re Beautiful” was released as a single in May 2005, it was easily the most played and requested song of the year. The soulful tune, along with Blunt’s unique vibrato belting to a man’s lost love captured the hearts of everyone who had learned to appreciate his music.

However, “You’re Beautiful” was also deemed as one of the most irritating song ever recorded, with Spike writer D. Sussman calling it the “worst song of all time”. It was largely derived from the song constantly being played in the radio stations, and would continue to do so for the year.

Twitter-Fingers

One of the most intriguing aspects of James Blunt’s career was not his music, but his Twitter account, where he frequently answer insults or negative comments made by Twitter users with sarcasm and dry wit, which gave him the repertoire of being snarky.

Some may call him rude or ungrateful towards fans, but James Blunt had unwittingly injected non-verbal humor in this verbal-heavy Internet era, and has never taken himself (or his songs) too seriously. If anything, that generated even more hate for him, which he had since turn it into free publicity.

Photo by Gala

Someone loves him…No, really, someone loves James Blunt

Being dubbed a playboy in the mid ‘00s, Blunt attracted many attractive women by his side, often showing in events with different women. One would have to assume that his swooning voice had something to do with that.

His infamy for female flatulence finally ended in 2012 after he married to socialite Alexandrina “Sofia” Wellesley, daughter of Lord and Lady John Henry Wellesley, and also happens to be the granddaughter of the 8th Duke of Wellington, Valerian Wellesley.

His music may be questioned by many, but his looks is not for many women out there!

The Carrie Fisher Factor

Many may not know this, but James Blunt’s fame was largely influenced, or indirectly so, by the late Carrie Fisher herself.

While having signed a record deal, James Blunt arrived in Los Angeles with nowhere to stay. Carrie Fisher offered him a place to stay, and they remained close friends ever since. One of his hit singles, “Goodbye My Lover”, was recorded in Fisher’s bathroom, and she named his debut album, “Back to Bedlam”, for him.

Their friendship never wavered even after his eventual success in the music charts, as Blunt continued to keep in touch with Fisher. A much more recent event before Fisher’s passing was at a Star Wars event, where Blunt was Fisher’s date of the day.

Interested to meet James Blunt in Malaysia? Come join him in Dewan Wawasan, Menara PGRM, KL at 25th March! Get your tickets now!
Tickets are priced from RM122 (including RM4 handling fees)

and available online from
www.BuyTickets.com.my

or call 03-2280 0363
for phone booking.

Visit our Official Facebook Page
facebook.com/JamesBluntMalaysiaTour
for more exciting activities.

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