Originally Posted by Nicholas92
I have to type this a bit quickly, but just to comment on your Fukushima point - ugh why does everyone end up saying the same thing? 'Look at Fukushima, built so well also shit happened in the end'. Discounting for the moment that this is a nuclear plant we're talking about (different story) out of all the many, MANY nuclear plants in the world, how many meltdowns and breakdowns can you name? Probably, only Fukushima, Three Mile Island, and Chernobyl. That's IT. Out of so, so many. You know how unfortunate it was what happened at Fukushima? It was so damn unlucky because, what are the odds? The fallout is potentially very bad, yes, but when you take into account the odds (and the fact that when you look at it now, Fukushima still did not inflict as much damage as say the Boxing Day Tsunami) to me it's nonsensical to hold it up as a reason why we shouldn't build nuclear plants, let alone rare earth plants.
Since the issue of Fukushima was brought up, I happen to know a bit more on this, from a civil engineer's point of view. I just want to write all this because not many people understand the science behind designing this kind of extremely dangerous facility.
Now, get this straight: there is no such thing as a 100% earthquake-proof, tsunami-proof, alien-attack-proof, whatever-proof building. This goes to say that when nuclear reactors, or any other facilities that may potentially harm other individuals or the environment, were built, the designers (i.e. the engineers) are PERFECTLY aware that there is still A RISK that disaster can happen (as in the case of Fukushima). If you need it, deal with it. 'Nuff said (*civil engineering coldness*).
The reason that we cannot build structures or facilities that can withstand an earthquake of 10.0 magnitude or greater on the Richter scale is for three simple reasons:
1. It is economically prohibitive (sometimes disastrous)
2. As a result of point (1), it becomes impossible to design structures or facilities to withstand that kind of earthquake
3. There is no point designing a structure that can withstand the earthquake if all the other infrastructure is destroyed in the catastrophe and many, many lives are lost, too.
But the above three reasons do not stop us from reducing the risk of a great catastrophe. We can find out from the country's history of the records of previous earthquakes and determine the mean recurrence interval of an earthquake of a certain magnitude by means of statistics (what with all the Fischer-Tippett Type I distribution, Weibull Distribution, etc.). This implies that given the mean recurrence interval of an earthquake, the magnitude associated to that mean recurrence interval can be determined.
The mean recurrence interval roughly tell us what is the frequency of the earthquake happening at an area. For example, if we say that the mean recurrence interval of an earthquake in Sendai of magnitude 8.0 is 100 years, that means we would expect this kind of earthquake to occur in Sendai once every 100 years. Now, from all that Fischer-Tippett nonsense (even I have some problems totally comprehending the mathematics behind this - but it works!), we find that as you increase the mean recurrence interval, the magnitude of the earthquake increases as well. But if you double the mean recurrence interval, the magnitude does NOT double. This means for a 200-year mean recurrence interval, the magnitude of the earthquake could be 8.3; it could be 8.5 for a 500-year mean recurrence interval and so on.
Now, for all of you who think that so little safety is put into the design of reactors, some engineers are known to use a 5000-year mean recurrence interval; some may even use a 10000-year mean recurrence interval. Recently, there were talks that they might want to increase it to a 50000-year mean recurrence interval.
So, what does this all mean? This means that if we design a facility to withstand an earthquake with a mean recurrence interval of 50000 years, well, practically speaking, the risk of that kind of earthquake happening in our lifetime is absurdly low, right? We might not even see that kind of earthquake at all! But how would we know that that 50000-year earthquake has already happened in the near past? What if this year is the 49999th year that the earthquake of that magnitude hasn't occurred? That means we would expect that kind of earthquake to hit next year! Then again, probability and statistics are imperfect. It might be the 50000th year now, and that kind of earthquake may not happen as well. So, are we going to start panicking, and stop building reactors, offshore platforms, high-rise buildings, etc.?
So, what has this got to do with Lynas? Nothing. Merely just want to tell you that Fukushima (or Chernobyl for that matter) is an entirely different issue. Yes, both Fukushima and Lynas have something in common: radioactivity. But in the case of Fukushima, nothing could have been done to prevent catastrophe. Lynas, on the other hand, has the ability to do the right thing so that disasters don't happen.
But to bring up Fukushima and Bukit Merah in the protests against Lynas is not really doing Lynas any justice. Yes, we certainly understand that the people are concerned about having children with birth defects, or increasing number of people suffering from leukemia, but that alone will not stop Lynas from being approved for construction and operation (similarly, that alone does not stop Japan or other countries from building nuclear reactors), especially if time and again many other parties concur that Lynas "is safe". As much as the people refuse to believe it, well, it reflects one thing - that we have lack of trust. And why do we not trust Lynas despite their assurances? The whole deal seems fishy and not transparent enough.
But is that Lynas' problem? Or is it the government's problem?
The fact that contradicting statements (one said that the wastes would be transported back to Australia, another said they would be disposed somewhere far far away from residential areas, etc.) come from different people in power would easily cast a shadow of doubt on the whole issue, and because of this the people would go out and protest. But they have been barking at the wrong tree.
We are not putting up an elite or high-up attitude here to denigrate others when we smack down some hard facts against some exaggerated reasons. We want to correct perspectives. As I said, yes, we can be worried about birth defects, leukemia, etc. but bringing in Bukit Merah, Fukushima and Chernobyl does not strengthen the argument. (And we could extend to say that it is up to us to tell people the hard facts, but it is entirely up to them whether to believe or not. Knowing Malaysians, chances are that they will dismiss whatever that is factual, just because "you are not with us - go away".)
P/S: On a side note, if a 50000-year mean recurrence interval earthquake does hit the region, most of the population would probably be dead before the reactor collapses.