by AZALEA AZUAR / pic credit: lynasrareearths.com
FORMER Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had agreed not to close the Lynas Malaysia Sdn Bhd plant when the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government was in power.
Parti Pejuang Tanah Air’s women wing, Pejuanita’s chief Datin Paduka Che Asmah Ibrahim said during PH’s administration, the Cabinet Meeting on Sept 26, 2018, had agreed to establish the Lynas Advanced Operations Evaluation Executive Committee Materials Plant (Lamp) which aims to evaluate its operations in terms of safety, human health and the environment.
“The committee is composed of six members who are experts in the relevant fields,” she said in a statement last Friday.
According to the executive committee’s report, the public is confused in assessing the radiation impact from a plant which extracts rare earth material that contains Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials compared to a plant which produces thorium or uranium.
Che Asmah said although Lamp has complied with the Atomic Energy Licensing Act 1984 [Act 304], the Quality Act Environment 1974 [Act 127], Factories and Machinery Act 1967 [Act 139], Act Occupational Safety and Health 1994 [Act 514] and the Coordination Act Industry 1975 [Act 156], some improvements are needed.
These include for Lynas to identify the causes of the presence of heavy metals and monitor groundwater in Lamp’s as well as the plant’s areas.
The company should also devise more effective communication strategies and set up a monitoring committee whose membership consists of relevant ministries, experts in the field, representatives from NGOs, local community representatives, Lynas management and other interested parties.
The committee also recommended for the government to study the development of the rare earth industry to create an appropriate ecosystem which is supported by legislation, governance, education, human capital development, research, development and innovation and ethics which meet the latest international standards.
This is to achieve development and sustainable investment.
Che Asmah also mentioned that the committee had not advised Lynas to close down immediately and that Dr Mahathir had acted on their recommendations.
“After the government changed as a result of the Sheraton Move, the people are no longer informed regarding this subject,” she said.
Che Asmah’s statement came as a response to Kuantan MP Fuziah Salleh who recently accused Dr Mahathir of not wanting to close down Lynas Malaysia during his administration.
“Kuantan MP (Fuziah) should urge the current government to keep us informed on what it has been doing in regards to the Lamp committee’s recommendations,” she added.
Che Asmah believed that the public, especially those in Kuantan, Pahang, have the right to stay updated on the status of Lynas’ compliance as it involves their safety, health and environment.
“The next course of action is in the hands of the current government at both federal and state levels.
“The previous administration under Dr Mahathir’s leadership had already laid out the framework for the rare earth industry.”