MALAYSIA is ready to face any legal actions by Lynas Corporation (Lynas) as the priority is to ensure the well-being and safety of Malaysians, says Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin.
Yeo said her responsibility as a minister is to ensure the well-being and safety of Malaysians.
“They need to move (the Water Leach Purification residue) out of the country because the country has no safe location for it.
“I need to protect not only the people of Kuantan but the whole of Malaysia, she said.
Yeo said that Lynas must keep its promise made in 2012 to send the residue from its rare earth plant in Gebeng away from Malaysia.
She said she had spoken to Attorney-General Tommy Thomas yesterday morning over the matter and the government is ready to face any legal repercussions from the Australian-based company.
“We are ready for it (legal action). Everything we do is according to the rule of law.
“Lynas cannot come and dictate how the rule of law is being applied in Malaysia and they cannot ask for exemption as if it was their right,” she told reporters at the Parliament lobby yesterday.
On Wednesday, it was reported that Lynas was mulling legal action after the ministry added new conditions to licence renewals for its US$800mil (RM3.3bil) plant in Malaysia.
The ministry stated that the Lynas rare earth refinery in Gebeng will be allowed to continue operating provided it removes and disposes its 451,564 metric tonnes of WLP residue, which contains radioactive material.
The ministry also stated 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 the rule of law must apply to all companies operating in Malaysia, adding that Lynas shouldn’t expect any form of exemptions from the government.
Citing the Environment Quality (Scheduled Wastes) Regulations 2005, Yeo said the present government regulations only allow a limit of 20 metric tonnes of scheduled waste to be stored on site for 180 days or lesser.
“They (Lynas) are applying for exemption and they have accumulated 1.113mil metric tonnes of scheduled waste over the period of six years,” she pointed out.
Lynas had sent two letters of undertaking dated Feb 23, 2012 and March 6, 2012, indicating their commitment to remove radioactive residue from Malaysia, if necessary.
“We are asking for Lynas to honour their word.
“Unless when they wrote those letters, they were actually not sincere about it,” she said.
Previously, Lynas stated it would consider all available options to achieve an appropriate outcome prior to its license renewal on Sept 2, 2018, including legal options.