KUANTAN: Workers at the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (Lamp) here say the first rare earth plant in the country is compliant with international safety standards and that its operations will benefit the economy and local population.
Lynas Malaysia Sdn Bhd engineer Chin Yin Yee said her health would not be at risk, noting that the plant was built according to international safety standards and given the green light by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
“I don't have any doubt over the safety of the plant. It is very frustrating when we try to explain to people that the plant is fine but they do not want to listen,” she said.
Despite the negative publicity, Chin said her family members had given her full support from the time she decided to join Lamp.
She noted that the rare earth industry was expanding worldwide as many components such as hybrid cars, batteries, bulbs and magnets needed the material in their manufacturing processes.
The Lamp operation is expected to create 400 skilled jobs plus other secondary jobs.
Senior manager of engineering services, Abdul Rahman Mohamad Ali, said he was happy to be employed by the company and it came as a shock to him that the matter was politicised to an extent that it could jeopardise their livelihood.
“The fear of Lynas came about because it was not based on facts. The fact is Lynas is safe,” he said.
“I really hope Lynas can start operations so that my family can have peace of mind and my three children can continue their studies here,” he added.
Abdul Rahman's wife Rozita Yassin said she was initially worried about her husband's safety but having gained an understanding about the rare earth industry, she understood that the fears were unfounded.
Azlin Zawawi, a technician, said the danger of radiation had been blown out of proportion.
“Just like any other factory, there are safety measures in place. As a wage earner who has to support a wife and child, why would I want to endanger myself if the plant was hazardous?” he asked.
Superintendent Zaini Sabidin said what the Kuantan community feared was far from reality.
“I have been to rare earth plants in China and comparatively, Lynas is modern and safer with better safety as well as engineering policies,” he added.
Datuk Dr Looi Hoong Wah, a medical specialist who took up an interest in nuclear medicine and particle physics 40 years ago when he was a medical student in Manchester, said what was dangerous was the political play by some people.
Stressing that the radioactive rays were close to zero, he said: “They have to wake up and realise this plant is of great benefit to the whole country. People's jobs are at stake.” - Bernama