| October 31, 2011
International Trade and Industry Minister Mustapa Mohamed is also forced to defend himself from the accusation that he is a ‘Lynas mouthpiece’.
KUALA LUMPUR: The government has rejected Lynas Corporation Ltd’s submissions on safety requirements for its controversial RM1.5 billion rare earth refinery in Gebeng last month.
The revelation came amid a report today by the Australian Associated Press that the Australian mining giant is expected to begin commercially supplying radiation-risk rare earth by 2012.
The Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI) told Parliament today that Lynas had given the submissions on July 18.
This was two weeks after Putrajaya adopted the 11 recommendations set out by an International Atomic Energy Agency-led (IAEA) review of the refinery.
“But we returned all documents for corrections and additional information on Sept 19,” deputy minister Fadillah Yusof said during MOSTI’s winding up of the 2012 Budget debate.
The government vowed to cease all operations including the import of rare earth until the 11 conditions are thoroughly met.
The recommendations included a comprehensive, long-term and detailed plan for managing radioactive waste that covers decommissioning and remediation.
Lynas was to commence operations late this year and was already planning to begin shipment of rare earth despite protests from residents who fear radiation leaks would be a repeat of the Bukit Merah disaster in 1987.
The incident in Perak has been linked to eight cases of leukaemia with seven resulting in death. The plant was closed following public anger but the refinery is still undergoing a clean up process worth RM300 million.
‘I am no Lynas spokesman’
However, it was reported today to have delayed plans to start rare earth production at the Pahang plant to the first half of 2012.
Kuantan MP Fuziah Salleh, the leading lady in the fight against Lynas, said the entire approval process was shrouded in secrecy and demanded more transparency.
“This involves the safety of the residents. They deserve the right to know what the process is like,” she added.
Fadillah, however, said Putrajaya was not permitted to disclose the details as they were “business secrets” belonging to Lynas and might be subject to legal action should they be revealed.
Earlier today, International Trade and Industry Minister Mustapa Mohamed was forced to defend himself from the accusation that he was a “Lynas mouthpiece”.
The accusation was made by a fuming Fuziah, who also described the minister of being pro-business.
“It is unfair to accuse me of being a spokesman for Lynas. The ministry has prioritised the Malaysian public and will continue to engage all interested parties,” he told Parliament.
Putrajaya believes that the rare earth refinery plant would be a strategic move that was expected to rake in RM2.3 billion in investment spinoffs and job creation.