Thursday 22 March 2012

Parliament to debate high radiation in ARE plant

The Dewan Rakyat has passed an emergency motion to debate the claims of excessive radiation level around the abandoned Asian Rare Earth (ARE) plant in Bukit Merah and its permanent waste dumpsite at Bukit Kledang, in Ipoh.

The motion, filed by Batu Gajah DAP MP Fong Po Kuan yesterday, will be slotted at 4.30pm for an hour-long debate.

NONEFong’s motion cited claims by environmental movement Save Malaysia Stop Lynas (SMSL) that the radiation levels at Mitsubishi Chemical’s plant, abandoned almost two decades ago, are still hazardous for public health.

SMSL stated that the radiation reading near the plant was around 0.19 microsievert per hour while the reading near the dump site stood at about 0.2 microsievert per hour.

Both readings, if calculated on a year’s worth of radiation, are beyond the safe level of 1 milisievert per year as advised by the Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB).

Fong had stressed that the results contradicted AELB’s assurance, given earlier this month, that the ARE site is safe enough to be converted into a public park once the Bukit Kledang waste disposal site is completely sealed, which is expected to be completed next year.

pandikar amin mulia ukec student summitDewan Rakyat Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia (left), in addressing opposition criticism that he always rejects motions tabled by them, coyly said: “I wish to add, every time I declined a motion under Standing Orders 18(1) my decision was often disputed, but this time I didn’t dispute the motion because I am very satisfied under Standing Order 18(2).

“Although the relevant ministry has sent a five-page-long letter of justification to me, in the last paragraph the ministry said that studies had been done before on the issue but they reasoned that the matter doesn’t have to be debated because it doesn’t have to be rushed.”

However, Pandikar explained that the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry, which will later respond to the questions posed to the MPs, had not erase “doubts” whether the radiation levels are as hazardous as claimed.

“So I don’t want to compromise on public safety. I cannot decide on behalf of the ministry, who is right and who is wrong. I also cannot tell you here that I’m satisfied (with the ministry’s answer).

“The issue is important, it was just raised on March 20, there is new evidence... so it must be debated and discussed prudently,” he said, reminding the MPs across the divide not to “politicise” issues related to public health and safety.

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