PETALING JAYA: Legal and technical intricacies are among the reasons why the government allowed Lynas Corp to postpone the construction of a permanent disposal facility (PDF) to next March, the Dewan Rakyat was told.
Deputy Science, Innovation and Technology Minister Datuk Ahmad Amzad Hashim said the proposed PDF site at Bukit Ketam, Mukim Kuala Kuantan was no longer considered, as the forest reserve status issue involving the area was not solved.
"Lynas needs time to acquire approval to construct the PDF site by the Pahang government."
Ahmad also said the construction of a PDF at a new area requires fresh studies into technical and legal aspects, which was limited due to the movement control order (MCO) imposed to curb Covid-19.
"The implementation of the MCO limits analysis and studies to be carried out for the new proposed PDF site," he said in response to Fuziah Salleh (PH-Kuantan) in Parliament on Monday (Sept 27).
Fuziah had asked if the government was serious in cancelling Lynas Malaysia Sdn Bhd's licence if it failed to construct the PDF for its Water Leach Purification (WLP) residue.
She had also asked earlier whether Lynas’ licence was renewed until March next year, and what was the government’s rationale in granting the renewal.
In response, Ahmad said delays on the construction of a PDF were granted by the government to Lynas until next March, 2022, and the present licence is still in effect until March 2, 2023.
Shaharizukarnain Abd Kadir (PN-Setiu) then interjected and asked if there would be a third-party independent body to be appointed to assess Lynas' plans to construct the PDF.
Ahmad said the atomic energy licensing board (AELB) has ordered Lynas to appoint an independent third party to carry out periodical assessment over its progress on the PDF construction and an assessment report will be made available to the AELB.
"So far, approval for the PDF site is still being assessed by the relevant authorities. The design of the PDF is also not yet approved.
"Appointments on the independent third party to assess its PDF site will be made by Lynas soon."
Earlier this year, questions were raised over Lynas' plans to construct a PDF for its WLP residue at an area of 58.25ha in Bukit Ketam, Mukim Kuala Kuantan, which is located at the Bukit Kuantan Forest Reserve.
The Lynas plant is located in Gebeng, some 25km away from the Kuantan town centre.