KUANTAN: Lynas Corporation will still forge ahead with the development of a permanent disposal facility (PDF) for water leach purification (WLP) residue.
This is in spite of the Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Ministry’s decision to impose a pre-condition for Lynas to remove the WLP residue from Malaysia.
Lynas chief executive officer Amanda Lacaze (pic) said the executive review committee’s report was sensible and scientific, thus the company would follow the recommendations as much as it possibly could.
“The PDF is one of the most significant recommendations in the review committee’s report and we feel it is important to do that with confidence.
“We have progressed significantly on this part and have even constructed a demonstration design of what the PDF may look like in terms of radiation safety.
“The next part is finalising where to locate the PDF,” she said when contacted yesterday.
She said the state government had also given an undertaking some years ago to site the PDF in Pahang should it be required.
In its report released on Tuesday, the review committee recommended that the rare earth materials producer identify and build a PDF, otherwise it should be prepared to remove the WLP from the country if the PDF’s location could not be identified or approved.
However, the ministry said in a statement on the same day that it would not allow the unlimited accumulation of residue at the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP) in Gebeng here.
Asked whether it was feasible to remove the 451,564 metric tonnes of WLP residue from Malaysia, Lacaze said Lynas was assessing ways it could do this.
“This matter requires further discussions. It is still too early to say what that may look like but we will try to work through it with the minister and the ministry,” she said.
In a statement yesterday, Lynas said they were surprised with the ministry’s decision that did not follow the process outlined in October, was inconsistent with the science, inconsistent with the expert review committee’s recommendations and contrary to international best practice.
Lynas said the ministry’s intention to impose new conditions contradicted its own media statement issued on Oct 30 which stated that the Cabinet would review the committee’s report before any decision was announced.
The company said the potential construction of a PDF for WLP residue had always been part of its planning.
Lynas said its licence conditions explicitly stated that residues should be recycled, and if that fails, then they should be stored in a PDF.
“Export should only be considered if a PDF is not possible. The recommendations of the review committee are consistent with this sequence of events,” it said.
Lynas emphasised that it was one of a number of industries in Malaysia with feedstock that produces residues with low-level radioactivity.
“Malaysia has strict regulations in place for residue management and there should not be one rule for other industries and one rule for Lynas,” said the company.
Lynas said it would consider all available options to achieve an appropriate outcome prior to its licence renewal on Sept 2, 2019, including legal options.
Lacaze said any regulatory decisions on the business should be based on science.
“This appears to be policy based on politics, not policy based on science. It is very disappointing to receive this on the same day that the review committee’s report was released,” she said.
As to whether it was still viable for Lynas to operate in the country after this new set of hurdles from the authorities, Lacaze said the company remains committed to Malaysia and would meet its duties as a foreign direct investor.
“This is the eighth time people have reviewed the Lynas business. Scientific and legal experts have consistently come to the conclusion that our operations are low risk.
“There are certain parties which continue to say bad things about Lynas but what they say is not based on facts. It is very frustrating,” she said.
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