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Confusing messages about where Lynas will put its rare earths radioactive wastes

Lynas had denied reports that the Western Australian government had refused to accept the radioactive waste from the miner’s RM2.5 billion rare earth plant in Malaysia.

“If the (Australian) government accepts waste, why not they (Lynas) stay in own country?” Himpunan Hijau chairman Wong Tack asked. Wong said Lynas Corp was “clearly taking advantage” of Malaysia’s
“loose environmental laws” and “non-functioning administration”.

Australia: No request from Lynas to accept waste http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/australia-no-request-from-lynas-to-accept-waste By Lisa J. Ariffin March KUALA LUMPUR, March 21 — Canberra
has yet to receive any request from Lynas Corp to accept radioactive waste from the Australian miner’s controversial rare earth plant in Gebeng, Kuantan that will be ready this June.

“Australia has not received any request to import residues from the plant,” an Australian High Commission spokesman told The Malaysian Insider when contacted today.

“A request of this kind would be addressed in accordance with relevant
Customs and environmental laws,” he added.

On Monday, Lynas had denied reports that the Western Australian government had refused to accept the radioactive waste from the miner’s RM2.5 billion rare earth plant in Malaysia.

The Australian mining firm, currently under tremendous pressure to
prove its refinery would pose no danger to Malaysians, had told local
media personnel during a dinner that the Australian government was
merely reacting according to common conditions that any country would
have with regards to such materials.
“We would expect Lynas and the Malaysian government to handle residues
in accordance with relevant Malaysian regulations and the terms of the
operating licence,” the spokesman said.

When contacted today, several anti-Lynas groups remained sceptical
towards Lynas’s announcement.

“If the (Australian) government accepts waste, why not they (Lynas) stay in own country?” Himpunan Hijau chairman Wong Tack asked. Wong said Lynas Corp was “clearly taking advantage” of Malaysia’s
“loose environmental laws” and “non-functioning administration”.

“The temporary operating license (TOL) can be issued without
scientific facts, and now they (the government) [are] talking about
setting up a (parliamentary select) committee. The administration is
totally not functioning,” he said.

“The contradictory statements from various government departments and
ministers… (show) how the whole procedure is being abused.

“Do not belittle us Malaysians,” he added.

Stop Lynas, Save Malaysia chairman Tan Bun Teet echoed his comrade’s
sentiments, saying Australia “won’t be stupid enough to accept waste
that will increase toxicity in their country”.

“For the past 50 years, toxic wastes that were kept in (Australia)
will be very much less than what Lynas will produce in a year,” he
said.

“I don’t believe the Australian government will accept it (the waste
from the Lynas plant),” he added.

Tan then labelled Lynas chief executive Nick Curtis’ statement as
“part of their (Lynas’) works to convince the government” that their
rare earth refinery was safe to operate in Malaysia.

“We are concerned about how they are going to manage the waste, that’s
the point.

“He has not answered this question. If Australia is prepared to take
it back, then just say they are willing to take it back,” he said,
referring to Curtis. Earlier yesterday, the Dewan Rakyat approved the
formation of a parliamentary select committee (PSC) to engage all
stakeholders within next three months over the controversial
multibillion ringgit project that is expected to fire up its
operations by year-end.

The dinner on Monday, organised by the International Trade and
Industry Ministry, is believed to be part of Putrajaya’s attempt to
explain the Lynas issue to critics of the plant, who resolutely insist
that its residues would pose harmful levels of radiation to local
folk.

But despite Curtis’ claim that the Australian government had not
rejected Lynas’s waste material, the CEO could not offer a guarantee
that the company would return the residues back to its home country.

Grilled for over two hours during the dinner by media members who
appeared unconvinced by Curtis’ repeated assurances regarding Lynas,
the CEO could only offer his company’s pledge to adhere to the
conditions attached to the two-year temporary operating licence (TOL)
from Malaysia’s energy regulator, the Atomic Energy Licensing Board
(AELB).

Among the most significant condition that Curtis highlighted was
Lynas’s signed undertaking that it would submit a detailed plan for a
permanent disposal facility (PDF) for waste, within 10 months of
receiving the TOL.

But Curtis said that setting up the waste facility at such an early
stage was an “unusual” practice as, in most cases, the rehabilitation
of a site would only be carried out at the tail end of the refinery’s

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March 22, 2012 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA, Malaysia, Uranium, wastes

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