Rare earth in Kuantan

The spectre of rare earth has re-emerged in Malaysia. It was reported that a rare-earth refining plant has been built in Kuantan, Pahang.

Prime Minister Najib Razak assured Malaysians that this plant has the necessary safeguards that would supposedly prevent a repeat of the radioactive waste problem that was associated with a closed plant in Bukit Merah near Ipoh. 

According to a recent New York Times report, the Bukit Merah experience shows that “refining rare earth ore usually leaves thousands of tons of low-level radioactive waste behind”. This explains why this controversial project in Bukit Merah gave rise to a frenzyof protests from the local community and civil society groups of Malaysia some 20 years ago.

Given the radioactive nature of the enterprise, it behoves us concerned Malaysians, particularly the folks living around the Kuantan plant, to reflect upon this matter seriously.

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