Posted on 7 March 2012 – 06:30pm
Last updated on 7 March 2012 – 06:53pm
PETALING JAYA (March 7, 2012): Opponents of the rare-earth processing plant in Gebeng, Kuantan yesterday criticised International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed for endorsing Lynas Corporation’s plan to send abroad the residue produced at its proposed plant.
They pointed out that Lynas is prohibited by regulations under the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Basel Convention from transporting its waste to another country.
The Basel Convention, of which both Malaysia and Australia are signatories, set out guidelines for transboundary movements of hazardous waste and its disposal.
Mustapa had on Tuesday said Lynas has agreed to send abroad the residue if it failed to identify a suitable location to build a permanent disposal facility in Malaysia.
“Although the government is satisfied that the Lynas operation will not generate residue which is radioactive, it has asked Lynas for an assurance and to provide a disposal facility far from human settlements,” he said.
Kuantan MP Fuziah Salleh (left), however, yesterday pointed out that Lynas in its Radioactive Waste Management Plan had revealed that one of its three waste streams would contain radioactive materials exceeding the permissible level of 1Bq/g as set by the International Atomic Energy Agency, while the other two would be below the permissible level.
“We were assured by the Minister of Science and Innovation in Parliament that Malaysia follows international standards and the cut-off point for waste to be classified as radioactive is 1Bq/g. Clearly, the waste is classified as radioactive and has to be regulated by AELB,” she said in a statement.
Fuziah said the Environmental Quality Act 1974 prohibits Lynas from “diluting” any waste produced at the plant, or recycling it for commercial applications.
Lynas had reportedly assured that some of the and waste could be safely recycled into gypsum boards and fertilisers, downplaying the necessity for a permanent disposal facility to be set up.
Meanwhile, Himpunan Hijau 2.0 chairman Wong Tack urged Lynas to “come clean” over which country has expressed readiness to accept waste produced at the Gebeng plant.
“If indeed there is a willing country, we still question them on how long will the waste be kept on site before it is transported out?” he said, when contacted.
The Australian government had in April last year declared it will not accept any waste from Lynas, despite the rare earth being mined in Mount Weld.