by DASHVEENJIT KAUR / pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL
THE government is seeking the Australian government’s cooperation to ensure waste from Lynas Malaysia Sdn Bhd is sent back to Australia safely before September this year.
Deputy Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Isnaraissah Munirah Majilis (picture) said an official letter was written by Minister Yeo Bee Yin to her Australian counterpart on Feb 26, 2019.
“This was to request cooperation in facilitating the production of water leach purification (WLP) residues from Malaysia to Australia before September,” she told the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.
Isnaraissah was responding to a question from Wong Chen (Subang-Pakatan Harapan) on steps taken by her ministry to ensure Lynas returns its residual waste to Australia.
Wong was referring to the radioactive WLP solid waste, whereby a total of 451,564 tonnes was accumulated in Lynas’ Kuantan operating site since 2012 up until December 2018.
The mining firm is currently facing problems obtaining licence renewals for its operations in Malaysia, after the government stated in December last year that the firm must first remove its radioactive waste from the country, as per its commitment made in 2012.
Lynas, the only rare-earths miner outside of China, has been operating the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP) in Kuantan, Pahang, since 2012. Apart from LAMP, its other major operation is a mining and concentration pit in Mount Weld, Western Australia. According to the Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Ministry (MESTECC), the radioactive residue from LAMP was accumulated since 2012 and stored at a temporary residue storage facility.
Isnaraissah said an Executive Committee has been established to evaluate LAMP and assess its operation in terms of safety, human health and the environment.
MESTECC has also established a task force set up by the government on Dec 7, 2018, and is currently identifying suitable international procedures and instruments involved in the process of removing the WLP residue.
“Currently, the task force is identifying relevant international procedures and instruments for the WLP removal process by taking into account all aspects of legislation and security, while preserving the environment,” she added.
In a written parliamentary reply on March 13, Yeo had stated that to ensure the safety of WLP residue transfer process, the government through the Atomic Energy Licensing Board will compel Lynas to comply with all provisions of the Atomic Energy Licensing Act 1984 (Act 304) and similar regulations set by the relevant authorities.