Claims of safety for Lynas plant is based on selective science

I refer to the article "Thorium Lynas tidak berbahaya - A. Rahman Omar" published in Malaysian Insider [1].  He claims that Lynas' waste is safe because the radioactivity is very low.  But he conveniently ignored the fact that the WLP waste is still almost 40 times greater than background levels [2].  We oppose the plant because there is no scientific consensus on how safe this level is.

Some scientists believe that the IAEA has grossly underestimated the risks of internal emitters.  They formed the European Committee on Radiation Risk (ECRR) to challenge IAEA's International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) risk assessment model.  One of the proponents of the ECRR, Chris Busby opined that the ICRP may have underestimated the risk of inhaled thorium internal emitters by 100-200 times [3].
If we apply a multiplier of 100 to the estimated inhalation and ingestion doses from the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP), we get "ECRR-weighted equivalent" doses of 42.8 mSv/year for the worker and 2.62 mSv/year for the public.  This means that in the event that ECRR is correct, even IAEA's own limit of 20 mSv/year for worker and 1 mSv/year for public can be breached.  That is how diverse the opinions are on the true risks of internal emitters. 

ICRP dose [3] (mSv/year)
"ECRR-weighted equivalent" dose (mSv/year)
IAEA's limit (mSv/year)

Dust (inhalation)
Thoron (inhalation)

Dust (inhalation)
Water (ingestion)

We do not expect IAEA proponents to be fair in assessing radiation risks.  After all, they are the direct beneficiary from a radiation friendly public.  Why else is there such a huge difference in IAEA's estimate on the number of casualties from the Chernobyl disaster at 9,000 people (revised upwards from 4,000) compared to a New York Academy of Science publication at 985,000 [4]?
In 2001, the Committee Examining Radiation Risks of Internal Emitters (CERRRIE) was formed to investigate if a nearby nuclear reprocessing plant is related to the excess cases of childhood leukemia in Seascale.  One of the committee members, Marion Hill felt so strongly about perceived bias in favor of the ICRP model that she resigned in protest.  When the consensual conclusion was too vague and mild, two of the committee members Dr Chris Busby and Richard Bramball, wrote a minority report that argued that there is “strong biological and epidemiological evidence that current models of hazard from radioactivity inside the human body underestimate risks by at least 100 and possibly up to 1000 times”.  These dissenting views are quite obviously not considered by Dr Abdul Rahman Omar.
In addition to the risk that LAMP may be more hazardous than what Lynas or the government is willing to admit, we also have no confidence in the government's competence to regulate such a risky venture.  The author does not find it odd to put Malaysia on the same par as Singapore, perhaps he is oblivious to the string of structural failures in our country, the most embarrassing one is the collapse of a newly constructed stadium roof in Terengganu in 2009. 
To date, the government and Lynas have not satisfactorily answered serious allegations of practices of cutting corners as well as poor construction reliability of the plant by the New York Times.  The government shrugged off these allegations by neither revealing the identity of the engineer who verified the plant's safety, nor the results of the tests done.
Curiously, instead of suing the New York Times, Lynas goes after the activists and the press.  Then, it  misled the public on the safety of their wastes [5].  The government, on the other hand refuses to listen to the rakyat, who demanded for the termination of LAMP on the 28 April Bersih rally.  With such implicit support from the government, the rakyat cannot help feeling suspicious of hanky-panky.
On 2 May 2012, Raja Petra Kamaruddin in his blog MalaysiaToday revealed alleged kickbacks of almost RM500 million to our former Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi to approve this project [6].  Incredibly, this expose fits perfectly in an incident on 21 May 2011 where Lynas' CEO Nick Curtis is believed to have accidentally told reporters that Lynas has deposited money with Putrajaya, despite not required to do so by the AELB [7].  Perhaps the author Dr Abdul Rahman Omar forgot to consider that corruption may have a hand in the frequent structural failures in Malaysia.
In short, while we are arguing over these uncertainties, the people of Kuantan are in no mood to be lab rats in this mad capitalist experiment.  Furthermore, it is unlikely that scientific consensus will be reached anytime soon due to the lack of data.  Do anticipate similar resistance when the government tries to decide whose backyard to dump the two proposed nuclear plants to.
Soo Jin Hou
Stop Lynas Coalition

[1]  "Thorium Lynas tidak berbahaya - A. Rahman Omar", 14 May 2012, The Malaysian Insider.  From:
[2]  Radiological Impact Assessment of Advanced Materials Plant, Gebeng Industrial Estate, Kuantan, Pahang, Nuklear Malaysia, June 2010. 
[3]  "Radiation - general notes", Nick Tsurikov, 25 Sep 2011, pg 20.  From
[4]  "Chernobyl disaster effects", Wikipedia.  From
[5]  "Lynas' waste as harmless as table salt?  Really?", 8 May 2012, Soo Jin Hou.  From
[6]  "Now that Bersih is over (part 2)", 2 May 2012, Raja Petra Kamarudin.  From
[7] "Lynas says paid Putrajaya for toxic waste cover", 21 May 2011, Malaysian Insider.  From


  1. From what I've read, there seems to be a lot of summarized paper pushing (different from peer reviewed paper publishing)academic in M'sia.

    This is even more so when during with latest scientific studies where M'sia has zilch or limited practical experience.

    What this ivory hermit mentioned is purely that. Thia has cummulated in the most reckless claim about trillion of dollars in energy production by the thorium-based nuclear reactors in fast breeder technology.

    Thorium fast breeder nuclear reactor is a baby science. All the current models r on experimental trial stage.

    Many of the claims in this technology r just paper claims, pending rigorous reviews on the coming experimental data. In short, this is in-matured technology, where the practical industrial applications would most likely be 20+ years down the road. India currently has a priority program, that can only be visibly operational in about 10yr time. Even that she is taking a BIG risk for jumping the gun on national pride!

    So, can u still seriously take what this ivory hermit said/write?


  2. Haha this article is total rubbish. Hilarious how one of the references is wikipedia......

    1. Anon 4:42

      Wiki is used because the estimated casualties from the Chernobyl disaster from various organizations are compiled for easy reference. If you dig in further you'll see that:

      IAEA = 9k deaths (revised upwards from 5k)
      TORCH report = 30k - 60k excess cancer deaths
      Greenpeace = 270k cancer cases, 93k fatal
      New York Academy of Sciences = 985k deaths

      Every other organizations believes that IAEA's number is ridiculously low. And please note that they initially quoted merely 5k deaths. Any wonder why people regard the IAEA as the nuke salesman?

  3. These guys quoted [3] to support their claims LAMP dose was higher than claimed, but neglected to mention that the conclusion from the investigation was that the LAMP was safe.. [3] "Radiation - general notes", Nick Tsurikov, 25 Sep 2011, pg 20. From​random/​radiation%20-%20general%20n​otes.pdf

  4. Anon 6:39 PM

    If you read the paper correctly, to justify that even the ECRR meets IAEA's safety standards, Nick Tsurikov arbitrarily reduced the multiplier from as high as 200 to only 5 and 10, despite objections from ECRR proponent Chris Busby. Very convincing indeed. Try harder next time Mark Rasmus.

  5. Thanks for posting this very informative article. More power to you!