GEORGE TOWN: Lynas Malaysia Sdn Bhd has described claims made by two non-governmental organisations against the company as “false” and “ignoring scientific facts.”
Its Radiation Safety, Regulations and Compliance general manager Prof Dr Ismail Bahari said the Pakatan Harapan government’s Review Committee had found that Lynas Malaysia’s operations were low risk, compliant with relevant regulations, and that residue storage facilities were operated in a proper manner.
“These findings are consistent with several independent and scientific reviews, including by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
“As such, Lynas Malaysia reiterates that all assessments of our operations should be based on scientific facts and evidence from qualified experts, and not unsupported assertions by unqualified people,” he said in response to statements made by Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) and Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) yesterday.
CAP had urged all ministers to stand firm in demanding that Lynas ship out the radioactive wastes from Malaysia. Failing to do so, the plant should stop its operations, said its president S.M. Mohamed Idris.
According to him, the recent statement by Entrepreneur Development Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Redzuan Md Yusof, that Lynas Malaysia should not be compelled to export its wastes back to Australia, as the plant’s investments were “too big to ignore.”, was indeed shocking.
Idris said it was not Redzuan’s mandate to interfere with the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change (MESTECC), which was responsible for handling the toxic and radioactive wastes generated by the Lynas plant in Gebeng, Kuantan.
He added CAP and SAM were completely in support with MESTECC’s decision to ask Lynas to remove and dispose of its radioactive wastes contained in the Water Leach Purification (WLP) process, which was in accordance with the two letters of undertaking given by the company to the government in February and March 2012.
Idris had said both NGOs always been calling for the wastes to be exported, as they could not be regarded as naturally-occurring radioactive material, but are in fact technologically-enhanced and dangerous, and the procedures involved removal from the ground and concentrated by mechanical and chemical processes.
He also added claims that the radioactive elements such as uranium and thorium in the WLP could be diluted and made less radioactive do not hold water and unfounded.
Refuting Idris’ arguments, Ismail said it was a scientific fact that the WLP residue was Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material (NORM).
WLP contains low level, naturally occurring radionuclides.
The lanthanide concentrate (feedstock material) processed at the Lynas plant has the same low level of NORM
as the WLP residue.
“There is no technological enhancement of the low level, naturally occurring radionuclides (thorium and uranium).
“This was confirmed by the Review Committee, appointed by the MESTECC Minister in 2018, which stated that the WLP is “a material that contains NORM.”
“WLP is also classified as NORM by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the international scientific benchmark for radiation safety.
“In addition, the IAEA Safety Standard for protecting people and the environment (GSR Part 5, 2009) advocates ‘dilute and disperse’ as one of the principal ways radioactive waste can be managed.” he added.