KUANTAN: Rare earth materials producer Lynas Corporation has expressed disappointment over comments made by the Lynas evaluation committee chairman Fuziah Salleh.
Without referring to Fuziah by name, Lynas CEO Amanda Lacaze said the committee chairman had stated that there was no requirement to be independent and did not confirm that Lynas could expect a fair review.
"We were disappointed to read the comments regarding the operation of the proposed evaluation committee.
"Lynas acknowledges the absolute right of the government to conduct a review, however, our expectation is that any review of our operations should be fair, scientific and adhere to proper process, in keeping with other recent initiatives of the new government," she said in a statement to The Star on Thursday (Sept 27).
Lacaze was responding to an interview with Fuziah published in The Star on Thursday, where the Kuantan MP stressed that the committee was set up in an executive capacity and was not an independent panel.
Fuziah reportedly said that the benchmark for a fair review should be finding the best outcome for the people of Kuantan instead.
Fuziah, who is Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, had recently been appointed as the chairman of a Lynas evaluation committee under a three-month tenure effective from Sept 24.
Lacaze also took issue with Fuziah's statement on the changing plans in dealing with the rare earth processing residues, calling it "factually incorrect".
"The operating licences for the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP) in Gebeng have consistently established that the order of priority in dealing with the residues is commercialisation, or if commercialisation fails, then permanent storage, or if permanent storage fails, then removal from Malaysia," said Lacaze.
In addressing the other assertions made about the company in The Star's article, Lacaze said, "the safety of local communities, our people and the environment will always be our first priority.
"We demonstrate this by ensuring compliance with licence conditions and international standards. Where these are different we adopt the more stringent requirement. Our performance in operating a world-class, safe chemical processing plant is proven by our international certifications including ISO Health, Safety and Environmental standards.
"We have earned the trust of our local communities through our six years of safe operation. There is naturally-occurring low-level radioactivity in the material we process and we carefully manage its use and storage to protect the health and well-being of our people and the local communities," she said.
Lacaze added that since 2012, radiation measurements had been taken at sites 1, 5, 10 and 20km from the plant and there had been no observable change in the background radiation readings over that time.
"In all instances, measurements are significantly below background radiation levels and below naturally occurring levels in other areas of Malaysia.
"The United Nations' International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), an independent scientifically based organisation, states our operations are 'intrinsically low risk'," she said.
Lacaze maintained that Lynas was committed to Malaysia and to continuing to operate a world-class materials plant in Gebeng that is safe for the local communities.
She said Lynas was looking forward to receiving formal notification of the proposed review and to engaging the Malaysian government in an impartial and transparent manner.