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Malaysians are busy protesting against the construction of a radioactive waste plant by Lynas corporation in Pahang, Malaysia. Lynas is an Australian company that’s building a $230 million rare earth processing plant in a place called Gebeng, 30km away from the town of Kuantan, Pahang.
Malaysians have organized a peaceful rally called "Himpunan Hijau 2.0" to protest against the construction of the plant. However, the project has already been approved by the government. The Malaysian people are now planning to organize "Himpunan Hijau 3.0" to continue the protest. So why are Malaysians so strongly opposed to this project even though some argue it could benefit the country? As I said earlier, the purpose of the plant is to remove radioactive elements from the rare earth minerals so that what’s left can be used in various industries, namely electronics. In this case, Lynas is removing the radioactive elements from the rare earth elements that results in a large amount of radioactive waste being produced in the form of solid, liquid and gas.
So why did Lynas choose Malaysia as a disposal radioactive base? Because the Australian government had vetoed the project, Lynas has tried to convince Malaysians that they are using a very safe method of disposing radioactive waste. However, it is too much of a risk for a country like Malaysia. Let's go back to the year 2011 when a major earthquake with a 8.9 magnitude hit Japan and damaged their nuclear power plant. Even the Japanese (known for their high tech industry) failed to protect their nuclear power plant. Furthermore, by approving the construction of this plant, the Malaysian government is endangering our natural resources. One research paper pointed out that one of the materials released by the plant is thorium (th), a radioactive element, and that any exposure to this material will increase your chance of developing lung cancer, pancreatic cancer and bone cancer. In the 1980s Mitsubishi Chemical built a rare earth plant in Malaysia disposing the radioactive waste into the ground. The authorities assured that it was a safe practice but the waste contaminated a large area and affected those who lived nearby. This causes several deaths, a high number of leukemia and birth defects. So, let’s not let history repeat itself.
I am still far too young to have cancer. Give the children a chance to grow up healthy. Malaysia is a home for 27 million people including myself. How would you feel if your home is no longer safe? So, on behalf of my fellow Malaysian youth and children and maybe children that will be born in the future, I beg the government to reconsider its decision to approve the construction of the plant. This is not another politic plot. Our lives are on the line!