Malaysia

AELB says will close Lynas plant if waste agreement broken

March 15, 2012

Raja Abdul Aziz said the AELB has yet to issue the TOL to Lynas. — File picRaja Abdul Aziz said the AELB has yet to issue the TOL to Lynas. — File picKUALA LUMPUR, March 15 — The Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) assured Malaysians today it will shutter Lynas Corporation’s rare earth plant in Kuantan if the Australian mining firm violates conditions on the disposal of radioactive material.

According to Star Online, the regulator reminded at its weekly media briefing today that that firm had already struck an agreement with local authorities here for it to return any radioactive waste to Australia if it fails to set up a permanent disposal facility here.

This, said AELB director-general Raja Abdul Aziz Raja Adnan, is despite Lynas’s pledge that all residues from the plant in Gebeng, Kuantan, would be recycled into products that can be sold.

“The board has approved a temporary operating licence (TOL) to Lynas but we have not issued it.

“Whether Lynas can proceed with its operations in June (as claimed by Lynas) remains to be seen,” the English daily quoted him as saying during the briefing.

Putrajaya recently said the Sydney-based Lynas Corp had sent a letter of undertaking to the government, promising to send its rare earth processing residue abroad if it cannot find a suitable waste disposal site in Malaysia.

But in response, anti-Lynas group Himpunan Hijau scoffed at the undertaking and demanded International Trade Minister Datuk Mustapa Mohamad reveal which foreign destination would accept such large amounts of toxic waste.

“Where exactly is ‘abroad’? Identify and prove to us which country outside of Malaysia is willing to accept this massive [volume of] toxic waste. Tell us which third world country Lynas will invade and pollute next. We want to know the full details,” the group’s chairman, Wong Tack, had asked.

The anti-Lynas lobbyist also demanded to know how much radioactive waste the miner plans to accumulate as well as the duration these would be stored at a temporary dumpsite before being shipped out.

He claimed in his statement that the proposed local dump is located in an unsuitable swamp area in the Gebeng industrial zone, on the outskirts of coastal Kuantan.