Energy minister ticks off Lynas over threat to sue govt

Minister Yeo Bee Hin says she has spoken to the attorney-general and was prepared to face any legal action by Lynas. (Bernama pic)

KUALA LUMPUR: Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin has ticked off Lynas for threatening to sue the government after it was told to remove waste from its Kuantan plant or risk not having its operational permit renewed.

She hoped the Australian-owned company would fulfil its promise to remove from Malaysia its waste resulting from its rare earth operations.

This included more than 450,000 tonnes of radioactive water leached purification (WLP) solid waste, Yeo told the media at Parliament today.

“What are the grounds for them to want to sue us? We have not abused our powers.

“If we are sued for implementing the law to protect the interests of our people, then we are ready.”

Yeo said she had spoken to the attorney-general this morning and was prepared to face anything because whatever was done was according to the law.

“Lynas should not try to teach us how to apply the laws of our country,” she added.

An executive committee set up to review Lynas operations released its report on Tuesday, recommending that the company build a permanent disposal facility (PDF) or otherwise remove the WLP from the country.

Lynas Malaysia CEO Amanda Lacaze said the company would follow the recommendations.

However, the ministry decided to impose two new pre-conditions, which are the export of WLP residue before Sept 2, 2019 and for the submission of an action plan on the disposal of its 1.11 million tonnes of neutralisation underflow residue (NUF), for which current approval is valid until Feb 15, 2019.

Lacaze said Lynas would consider all available options to achieve an appropriate outcome, including legal options.

Kuantan MP Fuziah Salleh said yesterday that radioactive waste from the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP) had harmed her constituency and its people.

She said she had consistently insisted that the radioactive waste not be allowed to be kept at the factory site as it is harmful to the environment and the people’s health.

She said this was proven when the executive committee report noted an increase in heavy metal concentrations such as nickel, chromium, lead and mercury in groundwater.

Fuziah added that nickel and chromium were substances that could trigger cancer.