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Wednesday April 27, 2011
Reports by SHAUN HO
AN independent panel tasked with reviewing health and safety aspects of Lynas Malaysia Sdn Bhd’s operations in Kuantan is expected to present its report within a year, said Deputy Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Fadillah Yusof.
“The whole process of identifying the international experts and completing the job will take about a year,” Fadillah said in response to a question from Senator Chew Lee Giok while winding up points raised by senators debating the royal address.
International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamad had announced the establishment of the panel last Friday, following objection from NGOs as well as residents near the plant’s site in the Gebeng Industrial Area in Kuantan.
Mustapa had said the panel would complete the task in a month.
Until the review is completed and the Government makes a decision, no pre-operating licence would be issued to Lynas by the Atomic Energy Licensing Board.
The review will ensure that construction of the facility fully complies with international safety standards and Lynas will also not be allowed to import any raw material from Australia.
Fadillah said a Radiological Impact Assessment (RIA) was undertaken as part of the required EIA before the site and construction licences had been issued.
“An EIA was approved by the Pahang Department of Environment on Feb 15, 2008, and was carried out according to the highest standards,” said Fadillah.
He reiterated that the waste which would be produced by Lynas was industrial waste that contained radioactive material from natural origins.
“The levels of radioactivity of the waste is the same or almost of the same level as normal Malaysian soil,” said Fadillah.
He also refuted claims of unusually high cancer rates leading to death among residents of Bukit Merah in Perak.
Bukit Merah was the home to the Asian Rare Earth (ARE) plant, which was said to be the cause of fatal and disfiguring health problems among residents living near the plant.
Mitsubishi Chemical, one of the partners of ARE, is currently involved in a RM300mil clean-up effort of the old plant site.
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