PETALING JAYA: Kuantan MP and vocal critic Fuziah Salleh has slammed a Cabinet decision to renew Lynas’ licence for six months, saying that Kuantan citizens will be exposed to radioactive waste for another four years until a cracking and leaching facility (CLP) is built outside of Malaysia.
“In the meantime, Kuantan citizens will be forced to accept that the water leach purification (WLP) waste, that will reach one million tonnes, would be disposed of in Pahang,” she said in a statement.
She said the new conditions set out for Lynas meant that the rakyat will be forced to bear the risk of radioactive exposure.
“Malaysia will be forced to receive toxic waste from Lynas.
“Lynas is the only winner with these new conditions. Companies which supply to Lynas will also benefit, while the rakyat and the environment will continue to bear health and pollution risks,” she added.
She also renewed attacks on the previous government, arguing that it was complicit with the state government in allowing Lynas to operate.
“I am disappointed that the government today is forced to bear the burden of finding a solution to the WLP waste when it should have been the responsibility of the previous administration,” she said.
Meanwhile, the anti-Lynas group, Save Malaysia, Stop Lynas!, has pointed to loopholes in the government’s conditions for Lynas to continue its operations.
Its president, Tan Bun Teet, said that radioactive waste will continue to pile up over the years if Lynas continues to operate.
Under the first condition, Lynas must set up a CLP outside Malaysia within four years.
After four years, it said Lynas should not produce any radioactive residue exceeding one becquerel per gramme at its Gebeng plant in Kuantan.
Tan estimated that, within the next four years, radioactive waste will continue to be produced at the plant and will reach one million tonnes.
“With one million tonnes of radioactive waste, how much would it cost Lynas to build the permanent disposal facility (PDF) under the second condition?”
As an alternative, Lynas may also choose to produce a written agreement from the relevant authorities to send its WLP waste to a country outside of Malaysia.
Tan said it cost the Asian Rare Earth plant in Bukit Merah US$100 million to bury its radioactive waste.
“That is one-tenth the size of the Lynas plant in Gebeng,” he said.
The Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) had said that Lynas’ radioactive waste, piling at a temporary residue storage facility, now stands at 580,000 tonnes.
Tan noted that there were no deadlines given for Lynas to fulfil this second condition for the PDF.
He added that it was “ridiculous” that they were only asking for Lynas to draw up a plan for payment instead of a table of costs. He said the government needed a proper mechanism to assess if Lynas was truly capable of fulfilling this condition.
Tan added that building a PDF will involve many steps, including having an environmental impact assessment, a risk impact assessment, a social impact assessment and a health impact assessment, which he cautioned may take years.
Tan, however, welcomed the government’s third condition requesting Lynas to end all research and development (R&D) efforts aimed at recycling its WLP waste for agricultural purposes.
Previously, Lynas had claimed that its research on the use of WLP and neutralisation underflow (NUF) waste had produced CondiSoil, a safe soil conditioner that helps ameliorate problematic soils, making them suitable for agricultural purposes.
Tan also noted that the government had not suggested setting up a monitoring committee. “The government seems to have no intention of seeing to it that all the conditions will be followed dutifully.”
He added that a monitoring committee should include members of the public, especially stakeholders and NGOs in Kuantan, which are well-versed in the issue.