AELB says will enforce removal of Lynas waste
KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 8 ― The Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) clarified today that Australian miner Lynas Corporation is legally bound to remove radioactive residue from its controversial rare earth plant in Gebeng, Kuantan.
In a statement today, AELB said the temporary occupational licence (TOL) granted earlier this week to Lynas to begin operations was subject to stringent conditions, including the return of residue to Australia.
It insisted that it will enforce the condition on the mining firm.
“The TOL approved to Lynas by AELB at its meeting on January 20 is subject to a number of conditions.
“The issue of the return of residue is clearly stated in the January 30 decision on the Lynas TOL.
“Subsequently, Lynas has submitted two letters of undertaking, the first by Lynas Australia committing itself to remove residue out of Malaysia, and the second by Lynas Malaysia Sdn Bhd, reaffirming the same,” AELB said.
“This commitment was also publicly announced by Lynas in their various press statements/sessions, notably on August 27, 29 and 30, which was reported extensively, both in Australia and Malaysia, and in both print and online media,” it pointed out.
“In conclusion, the issue of removal of residue being non-binding for Lynas, does not arise. It is legally binding and AELB will enforce it.”
Lynas received the TOL earlier this week from the government regulators, paving the way for its rare earth plant to begin operations despite widespread public protests over safety and environmental concerns.
Lynas said that it would begin transport and complete all steps to prepare enriching rare earth by October.
The TOL allows Lynas to operate for a period of two years beginning September 3.
AELB added that its press conference yesterday had emphasised that Lynas must adhere to all requirements and conditions imposed by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation through the Atomic Energy Licensing Act.
Yesterday, the regulator was reported as saying during its media conference that Lynas’s commitment to remove radioactive wastes from the Gebeng plant was not binding as it was not a condition for the TOL issued earlier this week.
AELB director-general Raja Abdul Aziz Raja Adnan had reportedly said the agency only relied on Lynas’s unilateral commitment without putting it in “black and white”.
“It was never a condition of the licence. When they (Lynas) made the commitment, we took note of the commitment and the board decided to issue the licence,” he was quoted by Malaysiakini as saying.
He said, however, that if Lynas broke its commitment to ship the waste overseas, AELB would consider its options against the miner.
“I’m sure they will take it out. The board decided it (and) took into account they will take it out.
“Should that not happen, there are various steps and considerations that the board can take,” he was quoted as saying.
Last week, five Kuantan residents were given the High Court’s nod to challenge the science, technology and innovation minister’s decision to award a TOL to the Australian miner.