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Fear over transfer of radioactive waste

 | September 8, 2012

Perak DAP has lodged a police report over the move to transfer 80,000 drums of radioactive waste to another underground site.

IPOH: Drums of radioactive waste buried at the foot of Bukit Kledang in Belanja, Perak, are being transferred to another permanent location in the same area – and this is creating ripples of fear.

Perak DAP has lodged a police report urging the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI) to investigate the safety aspects of the transfer.

Belanja is about 5km from Papan and 3km from Menglembu.

Papan is about 2km from a site in Bukit Merah used by Asian Rare Earth Sdn Bhd (ARE) to bury low-level radioactive waste from its rare earth mining operation in the early 1980s.

The ARE plant started operation in 1982 and was managed by Mitsubishi Chemicals. It shut down in 1992.

It was reported that 80,000 of the 200-litre drums containing radioactive waste are now being kept at the dump located in Bukit Kledang.

The Perak government has decided to shift this dump site to a nearby long-term underground concrete storage facility called “engineered cell” in the same locality.

It was also reported that the ongoing cleaning-up work of a 30-year problem is estimated to cost RM30 million and is expected to be completed by 2015.

Fearing possible radioactive leakage, DAP Buntong assemblyperson A Sivasubramaniam had lodged the report at the district police headquarters here on Thursday.

He told FMT today that the 80,000 drums might have been damaged over the past 30 years and feared the radioactive waste – torium hydroxide – might leak.

“Why is the government now shifting the dump site to a new concrete site… unless there is a possibility of leakage?” he asked.

Conflicting views

In his police report, Sivasubramaniam stated that MOSTI had sent him a letter on Oct 13, 2009, stating that the site (in Bukit Kledang) is safe from radioactive contamination.

However on Sept 5 this year, Ipoh City Mayor Roshidi Hashim told Sivasubramaniam that the radioactive waste, buried in 1985, is being relocated to the nearby concrete dump site in the same locality.

It was reported that cattle and fish rearing and vegetable growing are being carried by squatters within the 1.7km buffer zone of the dump site.

Hashim allegedly told Subramaniam that these agricultural activities around the dump site posed dangers to health.

“Why are there conflicting views between MOSTI and Roshidi about the safety [aspects] of the relocation of the radioactive dump site?” asked Sivasubramaniam.

“Why the secrecy in this cleaning-up operation? Why hid from the public about the possible dangers of radiation leakage?” he asked.

“I want the authorities to give an assurance that the people living in the vicinity will not be contaminated by the transfer of the buried drums to another site.”


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