Lynas: Stricter conditions aim to end radioactive residue production

A general view of Lynas factory in Gebeng April 19, 2012. — Reuters pic
A general view of Lynas factory in Gebeng April 19, 2012. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 21 — The government’s move to impose stricter conditions to be met by the rare earth mining company, Lynas Malaysia Sdn Bhd (Lynas) for the extension of its operating licence, is aimed, among others, at ending the production of radioactive residue in the future.

Deputy Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change (Mestecc) Minister Isnaraissah Munirah Majilis said according to the conditions stipulated, Lynas had to submit a plan for the construction of a ‘cracking and leaching’ facility overseas to relocate the process that currently being carried out at its plant in Gebeng.

“The ‘cracking and leaching’ facility abroad must be constructed and commenced within four years from the date of the validity of the licence.

“Once the ‘cracking and leaching’ facility starts operating overseas, licence holder (Lynas) will no longer be allowed to produce radioactive residues exceeding 1 Becquerel per gramme at its plant in Gebeng,” she said during oral question-and-answer session at the Dewan Rakyat today.

She said this in her reply to a question from Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob (BN-Bera) who wanted to know the government’s reasons for allowing the Lynas plant in Kuantan to continue its operations and its impact on the health of the people.

Isnaraissah Munirah said the renewal of the Lynas operating licence was approved by the Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) for a period of six months beginning August, with stricter conditions to be met by the Australian-based company.

She said it was aimed to ensure that Lynas operations, especially in terms of its waste management, were safe and did not pose any threat to the safety of the surrounding population.

“The new conditions were decided following the decision of the Cabinet based on the recommendation made by the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant Operations Evaluation Executive Committee in its report in November 2018,” she said.

She also said that the permanent disposal facility (PDF) was aimed to ensure long-term management of water leach purification (WLP) residue as opposed to waste storage previously allowed at its residue storage facility (RSF).

She said the AELB would carry out periodic checks on Lynas operations in addition to conducting environmental sampling as a verification step.

Referring to the Section 22 (1) of the Atomic Energy Licensing Act 1984 (Act 304), she said if a licence holder violates any of the licensing terms, the government may revoke or suspend it for such period as it may think fits. — Bernama

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