Debunking radiation myth

Lacaze (left) and Azman at the round table discussion.

KUALA LUMPUR: The scare campaign used by certain quarters against the operation of Lynas Advance Materials Plant in Gebeng near Kuantan will no longer work.

In saying this, Lynas Corporation Ltd chief executive officer Amanda Lacaze said the company had been operating safely without any incident over the last four years.

“Now, we have all the scientific data and evidence about our operations which disprove all the allegations hurled against us.

“Although we are not in the news much today, many of these misconceptions persist.

“So we think it is really important to address these issues with hard facts and not theories or models,” she said during a round table discussion with the media here.

Bernama chairman Datuk Seri Azman Ujang acted as the moderator of the event which was put together by public relations agency Creative Republic Sdn Bhd.

Lacaze said among the allegations were that Lynas was posing a threat in terms of health, safety and the impact on the environment, could not get approval to build a processing plant in Australia, that it was not committed to the community, with an increase in birth deformities in Kuantan, fishes being exposed to high radiation and causing the collapse of properties prices.

“Now, after four years, all those allegations are proven to be wrong.

“We have more than 550 local employees and a number of other nationalities including Australian, French, Swede and English, and all of us are proud to work for Lynas,” she said.

In September 2012, Lynas was awarded a temporary operating licence by the Atomic Energy Licensing Board for two years before being given a Full Operating Stage License (FOSL).

Lacaze said the conditions were explicit and strict, covering all areas of environmental compliance such as water, gas and solid residues and other operating requirements.

“I think we are the most measured plant in Malaysia and among the first to provide real-time monitoring to the authorities and the public.

“All legal challenges to our operations, both on application and on appeal, have been dismissed,” she said, adding that three months ago, its FOSL had been renewed for another three years by the authorities.

Lacaze said Lynas would continue to be “open, transparent and lawful” in every element of its business and a valuable contributor to the Kuantan community for many years to come.

“We are the only rare earths miner and processor outside of China and a key contributor to the local economy.

“Kuantan is a strategic port to ship our products to markets in China, Japan, Europe and the United States,” she said, adding that the company spent about RM200mil on research and development and invested over RM2bil in the country.

She said the company was also willing to invite non-governmental organisations, politicians and community representatives for a site tour, provided that all conditions were adhered to.

Lynas Malaysia Sdn Bhd vice-president Datuk Mashal Ahmad said there was no increase in background radiation levels at the plant or in surrounding areas since it started operation back in 2012.

“All emissions including air and effluent quality are below permissible limits and in line with the Environment Quality Act 1974,” he said.

Mashal said as for residue management and product development, the results from a study on CondiSoil by UPM and Mardi was expected in six months.

“So far, the usage of the soil conditioner shows higher yields in the planting of kenaf, corn, coconut, panicum grass and teak wood.

“We need three harvests to prove this and will submit to the experts and relevant agencies before proposing it for commercial use,” he said.

On corporate social responsibilty initiatives, Mashal said an allocation of RM250,000 had been set aside every year to carry out academic and environmental awareness programmes, give out contributions as well as plan sports and community engagements.

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