KUALA LUMPUR: Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin appears unfazed by the prospect of Lynas Corporation's taking legal action against the government.
Yeo said she had spoken to Attorney General Tommy Thomas on Thursday (Dec 6).
"I just spoke to the Attorney General this morning and we are all ready for it – because everything that we do is according to the rule of law.
"Lynas cannot come and dictate how the rule of law is applied in Malaysia, and you cannot ask for exemption as if it's your right," she said to reporters when met at the Parliament lobby on Thursday (Dec 6).
On Wednesday (Dec 5), it was reported that Lynas is mulling legal action, after the Ministry added new conditions to renew licences for its US$800mil (RM3.3mil) plant in Malaysia.
The Ministry said that the Lynas rare earth refinery in Gebeng would be allowed to continue operating, provided it removes and disposes its 451,564 metric tonnes of Water Leach Purification (WLP) residue, which contains radioactive material.
The Ministry also said that Lynas must submit an action plan on the disposal of its non-radioactive neutralisation underflow residue (NUF) scheduled waste totalling 1.113mil metric tonnes.
Yeo said that the rule of law must apply to all companies operating in Malaysia, adding that Lynas should not expect any exemptions.
Citing the Environment Quality (Scheduled Wastes) Regulations 2005, Yeo said that present government regulations only allow up to 20 metric tonnes of scheduled waste to be stored on site for 180 days or less.
"They are applying for exemption and they have accumulated 1.113mil metric tonnes of scheduled waste over the period of six years," she said.
Yeo, without mincing her words, stressed that her responsibility as a minister is to ensure the wellbeing and safety of Malaysians.
"They need to move (the WLP residue) out of the country because the country has no safe location for them.
"I need to protect not only the people of Kuantan but the whole of Malaysia," she said.
Yeo also said that Lynas must keep its promise in 2012 to send the residue from its rare earth plant in Gebeng away from Malaysia.
Lynas had sent two letters of undertaking dated Feb 23, 2012 and March 6, 2012 respectively, indicating their commitment to remove radioactive residue from Malaysia, if necessary.
"So, what we are asking is for Lynas to honour their words … they must honour their words and I expect them to do so," she said.
Previously, Lynas said it would consider all available options to achieve an appropriate outcome prior to its license renewal on Sept 2, 2018, including legal options.