Malaysia

AELB says on-site monitors will watch Lynas at every step

December 07, 2012

Lynas has secured regulatory approval to fire up its rare-earth ore refinery. — Reuters picLynas has secured regulatory approval to fire up its rare-earth ore refinery. — Reuters picKUALA LUMPUR, Dec 7 — The Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) has placed its officers at the Lynas plant on a full-time basis to regulate and supervise continuously each stage of the trial processing of lanthanide concentrates.

AELB, in a statement here today, said that it needed to ensure that all national laws and safety standards, as well as the international good practice for such operations were being adhered to.

“Continuous regulatory and supervision should also be carried out on the importing activity for lanthanide concentrates to Malaysia,” the statement said.

The statement said Lynas (M) Sdn Bhd had started its trial processing of lanthanide concentrates in stages and in limited quantities in line with the requirements stated in the Temporary Operating Licence (TOL).

“Under Section 22 of the Atomic Energy Licensing Act 1994 (Act 304), if the company committed a breach of any of the conditions of the licence or committed an offence under this Act, the AELB may cancel or suspend the TOL issued to the company.

“The company’s operation will also be stopped immediately pending further actions under the same Act,” the statement said.

AELB had issued the TOL to Lynas (M) Sdn Bhd on September 3, 2012 after the board was satisfied that Lynas had fulfilled all technical aspects, as well as all regulatory requirements.

Meanwhile, in Kuantan, Lynas Advanced Material Plant (LAMP) Malaysia Sdn Bhd managing director Datuk Mashal Ahmad said it was high time for all allegations and lies made against the plant to be stopped.

He said those involved in making the allegations and spreading the lies should stand back and allow the plant to operate, especially after the Kuantan High Court had on November 8 rejected the interim injunction application by three Kuantan residents on the TOL.

Marshal said the government had spent millions of ringgit to prove to the people that the plant was safe and its operation would not harm the workers, local residents and the environment.

“Over the past two years we have been deluged with accusations and baseless allegations from the anti-Lynas crowd who only aimed at poisoning the people’s minds.

“Lynas has also spent millions of ringgit to counter the lies and accusations, including by having international experts to provide the facts about Lynas to the public,” he said at a briefing session to the media and local residents at the plant here today.

He said six independent bodies had also been set up to study the safety aspect of the rare earth processing plant.

“We are tired of the anti-Lynas crowd’s antics. I would like to emphasize once again that the government has been very careful and meticulous in its decision and action to ensure that Lynas is safe, including for the environment.

“Enough is enough. Let’s just stop all the lies because even the court has given us the green light. To the opposition, please find other issues and stop politicising Lynas,” he stressed.

During the briefing, Lynas radiology safety advisor Prof Dr Ismail Bahari also demonstrated to the residents the comparison of radiation levels between the raw materials to be turned into rare earth metal and other raw materials such as monazide and iron ore.

Apart from discovering that the radiation level of the raw materials for rare earth metal was much lower that other raw materials, the residents also had the opportunity to hold and smell the rare earth materials which were deemed dangerous by the opposition.

A resident, Mokhtar Mamat, 63, said he was able to understand the plant’s operation better and would share the information with other residents so that they would get a clearer picture on the issue.

Sariah Awang Ngah, 45, from Kampung Sungai Karang Darat, on the other hand, said she used to have doubts about the safety aspects of the plant.

“Today, I know for sure what rare earth is all about. I used to listen to others, but during the demonstration today, I know exactly what Lynas will be doing at the plant,” she said.

Lynas chose to operate in Malaysia because of its cheaper production costs compared to Australia while China had tightened export of the product.

Lynas also obtained licences to build the factory in the two countries. — Bernama