Lynas refutes ‘inaccurate’ claims on groundwater, residue storage

The Lynas Malaysia facility in Gebeng, Kuantan.

PETALING JAYA: Lynas Malaysia today refuted several statements about the findings of the review committee in its study of the plant’s operations in Gebeng, Kuantan, which it said were inaccurate and undermined the scientific approach taken by committee members in their assessment.

In a statement, Lynas said the committee’s report, released on Dec 4, had found the company’s operations to be low-risk and compliant with the applicable laws.

It added however that certain comments had been made following the report which sought to misrepresent the committee’s findings or disregarded its recommendations.

It highlighted the committee’s recommendation that studies be conducted on the Balok River aquatic ecosystem after the discovery of an increase in heavy metal concentrations for nickel, chromium, lead and mercury in groundwater in the Gebeng-Kuantan area.

“The review committee report made no findings as to the origin of the materials in the groundwater, and instead recommended that further studies be undertaken.

“There are many potential sources and reasons for the heavy metal presence in groundwater, and to suggest otherwise is incorrect and misleading,” it said.

Lynas added that all residue from its operations were stored in specially designed, constructed and operated facilities approved by the regulatory authorities.

It said a double liner system was used to prevent any leaching, while storage cells were equipped with an underline leak detection system which monitors any leaks from the cells.

“Such monitoring has been ongoing since the storage facilities were first used,” it added, noting that data had shown no leaks from any of the cells.

“Water, including rain water, collected in the cells is either recycled back into processing or treated by our waste water treatment system and monitored for quality compliance before being released into the environment.”

Lynas also addressed comments regarding the management and storage of residue produced at its plant.

It said all materials were stored in facilities compliant with Permanent Disposal Facility requirements, which met Malaysian regulatory requirements as well as international best practices.

“The facilities are designed to ensure the material is properly contained, even in the event of extreme weather events,” it added.

It also noted that gypsum was the second highest volume of residue produced by industrial plants in Malaysia.

“Lynas Malaysia produces two types of gypsum, one of which, WLP, is a very low-level, naturally occurring radioactive material.”

It said the company was aware of instances where much higher volumes of industrially generated gypsum material were stored on sites in Malaysia, and where material with much higher levels of radioactivity was stored in facilities that were not of the same standard as those of Lynas.

Lynas also said it would undertake studies and implement additional monitoring recommended by the review committee to rule out any contributions by the plant’s operations.

“As the review committee found, Lynas is compliant with all applicable regulations and operates extensive testing and monitoring programmes to ensure the safety of our people, our communities, and the environment,” it said.

“Lynas is fully committed to our Malaysian operations and our people are dedicated to operating in a way that is lawful and contributes positively to Malaysia.”