Try getting past Aussie Customs with suitcase of waste, Fuziah dares Lynas chief

Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Fuziah Salleh.

PETALING JAYA: Kuantan MP Fuziah Salleh today challenged Lynas Malaysia over its statements on naturally-occurring radioactive materials (NORM) generated at its plant in Gebeng, accusing the company of pushing its “hazards” to Malaysians instead of dealing with them safely.

In a statement, Fuziah referred to chief executive Amanda Lacaze’s recent interview with FMT in which the latter said both the raw rare earth and processed residue were categorised as NORM.

She added that the low level of radiation remained unchanged throughout the process.

Accusing Lacaze of making “irresponsible statements”, Fuziah said this was as good as asking Malaysians “to commit a slow suicide to save Lynas the cost of cleaning up its own waste”.

“I dare Lacaze to pack a suitcase of Lynas NORM and try to get through Customs in Australia with it,” she added.

Claiming that Lacaze was just “one step short of telling Malaysians to swallow carcinogens generated as waste by Lynas”, Fuziah, who is a deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, asked what kind of “zero-harm” corporation it was.

“If Lynas is serious about international standards, it would have remained in Australia to abide by the more stringent regulatory requirements there, and not picked Malaysia for its most hazardous operations.”

Fuziah, who has been a staunch critic of Lynas, had earlier this week called on the company to send its radioactive waste back to Australia, purportedly because the government review committee’s report showed that the groundwater in the area contained cancerous materials.

However, Lacaze told FMT that the committee had in fact recognised that Lynas was “intrinsically low-risk” and that it had management practices that further mitigated any risks.

She also rubbished Fuziah’s claim that the committee report found that the nickel concentration reading of the groundwater was very low in 2007 but spiked after Lynas began its operations.

“What the report said – and anyone can check it out – is that the review committee made no findings on the source of this material and it recommends further studies to determine where it came from.”

She added that Lynas was confident it would be vindicated by the outcome of any such study.