Independent committee found Lynas to be safe

Workers of Lynas Malaysia saying thanksgiving at the vicinity of the Kuantan High Court on Nov 17 2012, after the court rejected an injunction application to stop the company's operations.

Zaidi Azmi
Written by Zaidi Azmi

KUALA LUMPUR — December 4, 2018: The executive committee tasked to review Lynas Corporation Ltd’s controversial rare-earth refinery in Gebeng, Kuantan, has found  the operations to be safe and lawful.

In its executive summary of the 197-page report, the committee points out that Lynas only refines rare-earths containing naturally occurring radioactive materials and is not a nuclear plant.

The verdict, following a three-month review since September 24, is in line with the all-clear given by the six regulatory bodies in charge of monitoring Lynas’ operations since 2012.

The committee also listed some recommendations for the company to do which includes improving its residue management, performing comprehensive periodic health surveillance and a study to discern the presence of heavy metals in nearby ground water.

Lynas must also find more effective ways to communicate with the public and stakeholders, especially non-governmental organisations, in resolving conflicts factually.

The committee also suggests the setting-up of a monitoring committee comprising representatives from related government outfits, NGOs, local communities and Lynas’ management, read the report that was published today.

The committee further recommends that the government create a more conducive ecosystem for industries such as Lynas so as to obtain a more sustainable investment that meets international standards.

The Lynas story first hogged the news in 2011 when critics claimed that its operations will turn Gebeng into radioactive wasteland because it will allegedly dump gallons of radioactive wastes into nearby rivers.

On this, the committee found out that Lynas’ only radioactive by-product, the water leached purification (WLP), is harmless and that none of its workers has been exposed to dangerous radiation level from the WLP.

Despite the committee’s finding, the Ministry of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change had in a statement issued today insisted that Lynas must remove the WLP from the country. This is because the ministry does not want to allow unlimited accumulation of residues which are currently being studied for its potential use as a soil conditioner at the Lynas refinery.

As for Lynas’ second by-product, the non-radioactive neutralisation underflow, the ministry requests for the company to submit an action plan concerning its disposal.

These pre-conditions will be applied to Lynas for future licences/permission renewals, said the statement.

Lynas’ storage licences for NUF and WLP expire on February 15 and September 2, 2019, respectively.

Lynas was previously reviewed by the International Atomic Energy Agency twice, in 2011 and 2014, after which its activities were rated as intrinsically low-risk.



About the author

Zaidi Azmi

Zaidi Azmi

If Zaidi Azmi isn’t busy finding his way in the city, this 26-year-old northern kampung boy can be found struggling to make sense of the Malaysian political scene. Zaidi can be reached at zaidiazmi91@gmail.com.