Lynas Finally Conceded, The Waste Is Radioactive; Yet, NO Long Term Waste Management Plan?

Press Statement by MP for Kuantan Fuziah Salleh 4th January 2012

Press Statement by MP for Kuantan and PKR Vice President Fuziah Salleh on 4th January 2012

Press Statement by MP for Kuantan
4th January 2012

Right from the early days of submission, starting from its first proposal, Lynas had been taking advantage of the loopholes in the system. Lynas had claimed back in 2008 that the waste from LAMP is not radioactive; that its waste is classified as industrial waste with (Normal Occurring Radioactive Material -NORM). This thinking framework of Lynas was reflected in the 3 submissions of the waste management plan prior to this (dated 22nd April 2011, 18th July 2011 and 3rd Nov 2011) – all of this prior submission uses the title ‘Waste Management Plan’ conveniently omitting the word ‘radioactive’. It is to my understanding that all 3 submissions were rejected by AELB.

It was only in the 4th submission of the waste management plan (dated 30th Dec 2011) that Lynas finally conceded and admitted that their waste is classified as radioactive waste. The title of the submission mentioned the word radioactive. – “Radioactive Waste Management Plan Rev4 -30th Dec 2011″

However, today, having taken some time to go through the document on display at the AELB HQ, I came to the conclusion that Lynas is still trying it’s best to dodge the Malaysian authorities.

Lynas does this by declaring that its WLP solid residue does not fall within any of the 5 classes under schedule one of the radioactive waste classifications provided in the Peraturan Pegurusan Sisa Buangan Radioaktif (2011) where according to the Malaysian classification, Lynas’s WLP solid residue will actually fall under the category of Low Level Waste-Long Lived (LLW-LL). (Pg36 of the waste management plan)

Our Malaysian regulation does not include a category for Very Low Level Waste-Long Lived. (VLLW-LL) Thus Lynas sought to the IAEA standards instead (IAEA 2009, IAEA 2011b) and claimed that their waste is so low in radioactivity such that is can be classified as VLLW-LL, which will then allow for the radioactive waste to be disposed of in landfill type facility as per IAEA standards.

In page 36 of their submission, Lynas quoted: “Very Low Level Waste is defined as – waste that does not necessarily meet the criteria of exempted waste, but does not need a high level of containment and isolation. Suitable for disposal in near surface landfill type.”

However according to the Malaysian classification of the various classes of radioactive waste, the WLP solid residue from LAMP which is classified as LLW-LL will require the waste to be buried underground, near surface as a means of disposal. Of course a buffer zone will have to be considered, in an area where there is absence of groundwater.

Even when Lynas showed diagrams of its proposed permanent disposal facility (PDF) as part of the safety case document, is very clear that as at now Lynas plans to store it’s waste onsite in the Residue Storage Facility RSF forever, quoting that it’s RSF can accommodate for their waste up to 20 years. Lynas also mentioned that they can stretch till the 14th year of operations to identify the site for the Permanent Disposal Facility.

This proposal by Lynas is totally unacceptable, as we know that LAMP in Gebeng is built on peat soil with the underground water level at less than 1metre and leachate from the WLP RSF can easily leach into our groundwater, and possibly find its way to Sungai Balok or to the South China Sea. Leakages in the leachate pipes may occur and contamination of the ground soil will then be unavoidable and disastrous to the environment.

I therefore urge our Malaysian authorities, MOSTI, and AELB in particular to be weary of Lynas bullying tactics and to come to the defence of the Kuantan public. Lynas must not be issued with the temporary pre-operating License nor any operating License for that matter as Gebeng is not the site where LAMP should be.

Fuziah Salleh
MP for Kuantan, Malaysia.

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