Monday, March 28, 2011

Radiation fear, another global politic contagion?

The contagion of Japan Radiation fear has spread globally,

Fears over the Japan nuclear crisis triggered a crushing defeat for Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives in their German heartland Sunday, as the ecologist Greens roared to a historic triumph.

Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) have ruled wealthy Baden-Wuerttemberg, home to industrial giants Daimler and Bosch, for 58 years, but her on-again, off-again support for nuclear power spooked voters ahead of the crucial poll.

The anti-nuclear Greens won a record 24 percent of the vote -- more than 12 points higher than in 2006 -- and were likely for the first time to lead a coalition with the Social Democrats, who garnered about 23 percent.

The opposition edged out Merkel's party and the Free Democrats (FDP), their junior partners in the state and at the national level, who claimed a dismal 44 percent between them.

Forty-five percent of voters called nuclear power a key issue in light of the disaster in Japan, and Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, the FDP leader, pledged another rethink in Berlin.

"The dreadful events in Japan, the nuclear accident in Fukushima and the consequences for us in Germany: these were the most decisive topics in this state election," Westerwelle said.

"It was a referendum on the future of atomic energy."

Social Democrats leader Sigmar Gabriel declared: "Today the final decision on the end of nuclear power in Germany was made."

(source: extract from German nuclear fears trigger Merkel party poll debacle, By Deborah Cole | AFP News, )

Coming back to country closer to Japan, the radiation fear is also spread to Kuantan Pahang state, Malaysia.

The massive earthquake in Japan and the resulting tsunami has also added fears about the plant in Malaysia’s east coast which faces the Pacific Rim’s ring of fire, the world’s active volcanic region. The 8.9 magnitude earthquake in Japan and the 10-metre high tsunami it sent surging into cities and villages, sweeping away everything in its path.

Australian mining company Lynas Corporation has begun construction of the rare earth refinery in Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s home state, raising fears of a repeat of the radiation pollution in Bukit Merah, Perak that has been linked to at least eight leukemia cases in the local community there.

The Asian Rare Earth plant is now the subject of a quiet US$100 million (RM303 million) cleanup exercise by Mitsubishi Chemical which shut down the facility nearly two decades ago.

The New York Times reported this week that the refinery in Gebeng, just 70 kilometres north of Najib’s Pekan constituency, will be the first such plant outside China in nearly three decades.

Environmental hazards have made other countries wary of rare earth processing, leaving China to control 95 per cent of global supply of rare earth metals.

The metals are crucial to high technology products such as the Apple iPhone, Toyota Prius and Boeing’s smart bombs.

The newspaper said that if prices of the metals stayed at current levels, the Lynas plant would generate over RM5 billion a year in exports for Malaysia, or nearly one per cent of its entire economy.

However, Lynas corporate and business development vice president Matthew James has denied that the plant will be dangerous and told The Malaysian Insider that radiation will be minimal as the raw material used has only 2 per cent of the thorium found in the material processed in Bukit Merah.

Thorium is the radioactive element found in nearly all rare earth deposits.

The RM700 million rare earth refinery being built near Kuantan is set to be a major election issue with Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim now calling for a campaign to alert residents there about the dangers of radiation pollution.

(aource: Extract from The Malaysian Insider – Sat, Mar 12, 2011 2:18 PM MYT,

Will the Japan radiation plant event cause a chain of reactions as geopolitics contagion effect like the recent Jasmine uprising, causing political changes to countries having political dispute on nuclear energy issue? . Germany is clearly on the way for a change, will Malaysia and other countries followed?........

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