Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Malaysiakini - No waste disposal plan, no licence for Lynas

Jun 15, 11 7:57pm

The Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) will not likely approve the pre-operations licence to Australia's Lynas Corp Ltd's rare earth plant in Pahang if the long-term waste management strategy documents are not submitted to the agency.

Construction of the RM700 million rare earth oxides plant by Lynas Malaysia Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of Lynas Corporation Australia, at the Gebeng industrial estate created a controversy following claims that it would emit radiation which could be detrimental to public health.

The waste by-products of the plant, which contain the radioactive element thorium stirred public protest.

AELB director-general Abdul Aziz Raja Adnan said the pre-operations licence would not be approved without the waste management strategies even if the outcome of the international expert panel was favourable to Lynas.

"This is because complying to all operational regulations, safety requirements and security measures is the top priority of the AELB when approving licences and it is vital for Lynas to adhere to, he told Bernama.

The AELB - an agency under the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry - said the outcome from the expert panel appointed by the International Atomic Energy Agency is expected to be out on June 30.

"Lynas claims they are very confident that it has met all requirements. They are in the midst of preparing the long-term waste management strategies," he said after delivering a talk on awareness and understanding various issues and technical aspects of the plant in Kuala Lumpur today.

The luncheon talk was hosted by MIDF Investment Research.

Earlier, in his talk, Abdul Aziz said six licences known as "multi-stage licensing" have to be approved for Lynas to be in full operations, of which, the first two licences for citing and construction have been granted.

The AELB has been directed to hold back any consideration for the pre-operations licence to Lynas until findings of the expert panel is made known.

Asked what would be the possible risk in the worse case scenario if the plant operated, Abdul Aziz said that in terms of radiology, there was none, except for chemical scenarios.

- Bernama

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