Former member of Lynas review committee claims proposed disposal site is in water catchment area

  • Nation
  • Wednesday, 12 Feb 2020

KUANTAN: A former member of the government's Lynas executive review committee has repudiated the rare earth materials producer's claim that its proposed permanent disposal facility (PDF) site is not in a water catchment area.

Dr Maketab Mohamed said the entire site in Bukit Ketam here was within a water catchment area as evident by a tributary that flows to Sungai Riau.

"The water will then flow downstream before reaching the Kobat barrage. Basically, it goes to the major water intake for Kuantan.

"Seeing the topography of the river and also the stream, everything flows into Sungai Riau, so building it anywhere in the area will involve Sungai Riau," he said after visiting the site on Wednesday (Feb 12).

Save Malaysia, Stop Lynas (SMSL) recently claimed that the areas surrounding Bukit Ketam were water catchment areas for the entire Kuantan district.

This prompted Lynas Malaysia to respond, saying that external experts had confirmed that the proposed site was not in any water catchment area.

The company also said expert studies had shown that the PDF could be constructed to ensure there was no pathway for material to reach the water supply.

Maketab, who is an expert in water quality and water quality modelling, said the rule of thumb was not to choose such an area to build the PDF.

"We are not saying there will be a leak but we are all human beings. You cannot confirm 100% it will not happen.

"Due to the location, building a PDF here is automatically disqualified," said Maketab, calling on Lynas to produce its external experts' report.

On Aug 15 last year, the Atomic Energy Licensing Board announced that the government had given a conditional six-month licence extension to Lynas.

Among the conditions were for Lynas to identify a specific site to construct a PDF for its water leachate purification residue and to obtain written permission from the state government for the use of that site.

SMSL chairman Tan Bun Teet said Lynas had an obligation to tell the public the exact location of the PDF so that informed research and feedback could be given.

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