ANANTHAN SUBRAMANIAN, Kuala Lumpur
I AM concerned about the recent news that a Brazilian company, Vale SA, is setting up an iron ore plant in Lumut, Perak.
I have worked in a similar industry and I am familiar with Vale's practices, and would like to bring its history to light for the protection of one of our country's top beach holiday destinations and fishing industries.
Firstly, Vale received mention at the recent Group of Eight/Group of 20 summits for allegedly not following a code of ethics when it came to labour or the environment.
This arose over purported unfair treatment and unsafe working environment at Vale's nickel mines in Sudbury, Ontario, resulting in a strike by over 3,500.
The global campaign against Vale is fronted by trade unions, such as the International Metalworkers Federation, International Federation of Chemical, Energy and Mine General Workers Union and the United Steelworkers.
Against this background, the case of Vale Inco's Goro nickel refinery in New Caledonia (1,500km off the coast of eastern Australia) becomes an example I wouldn't want to see repeated.
The refinery, much like the proposed one in Lumut, disposes of its liquid waste material through a pipeline into a lagoon near a Unesco World Heritage site.
In April last year, there was a serious sulphuric acid spillage caused by a pipeline joint rupture in an extremely sensitive environmental area.
The long-term effects of the spillage are unknown. Vale redesigned its acid plant safety immediately after, but this is something which never should have happened in the first place if the company cared about the impact of the refinery on its surroundings and on the people who depend on marine resources for their livelihood. We need to note that fishermen in Lumut depend on the sea.
Considering that a large portion of the fishing industry of Perak comes from the Lumut area and that having the plant could jeopardise the livelihood of residents and possibly cause environmental damage and health problems, it is not a good idea to allow Vale to build a plant in Lumut.
Read more: Environment: Rethink plan for iron ore plant http://www.nst.com.my/nst/articles/19enr/Article/#ixzz18kqLe7Qp