Stephanie Sta Maria | March 23, 2012
Once again, Western Australia has said that it will not accept the waste from the Lynas plant in Gebeng.
PETALING JAYA: Western Australia (WA) has repeated itself hoarse about its refusal to accept Lynas Corp’s waste material from Malaysia even as the mining giang continues to deny that such a rejection has taken place.
Earlier this month, Greens MP Robin Chapple had asked Minister for Mines and Petroleum Norman Moore whether the latter had changed his original view of not accepting Lynas’ waste now that the waste would reportedly be non-radioactive after being treated.
Chapple was referring to a statement by the Atomic Energy Licencing Board (AELB) on March 1 that the option to return the waste to Australia remained open as the waste would not be radioactive once it was treated. But Moore has confirmed that he had not budged from his stand.
“Yes (to rejecting the waste) as Commonwealth legislation prohibits the importation by Australia of any waste product produced from offshore processing of any mineral resources purchased here,” he said in a written reply to Chapple on March 20.
Just the night before however Lynas’ chief executive officer Nicholas Curtis told the Malaysian media that the WA government was only taking precautions and had not rejected the proposal outright.
Moore’s latest statement was the third time that WA made clear its stand on the matter. The first was in last April when he said that national legislation prohibited Australia from “accepting responsibility for any waste products produced from offshore processing of resources purchased in Australia.”
Moore had said that the development and management of the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP) in Gebeng, Kuantan, was a matter for the Malaysian government and not the WA state government.
He repeated this stand in an official statement to FMT last month asserting that “Australia does not support the importation and storage of other countries’ radioactive waste.”
Lynas is under tremendous pressure to allay strong public fears that its RM2.5 billion refinery would not pose any danger to the people and environment.
Yesterday, Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak promised that the plant would be shut down if there was scientific evidence to prove that it was hazardous.
But anti-Lynas groups have said that the onus was on the government to prove that the LAMP was safe instead of vice-versa.