Thursday, 28 June 2012

AELB can't confirm Lynas wastes will be shipped out

Despite the cabinet agreeing that the residue from the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (Lamp) should be shipped out of Malaysia, the Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) said it could not confirm this.

NONE“I cannot confirm yet because Lynas has not submitted (its disposal plans) actually, because they are not required to do so until the temporary operating license (TOL) has been issued,” said the AELB director-general’s special officer Noor Hasnah Khairullah at a press conference today.

“They must do that within ten months of the issuance of the TOL.”

Sin Chew Daily had quoted Health Minister Liow Tiong Lai as saying last Friday as saying that the residue should be shipped out because Lynas is unlikely to find a suitable location in Malaysia for its permanent disposal facility (PDF).

“Lynas Corp has given a letter of undertaking to ship the waste out of the country, so it is not an issue now.

“Although the conditions say it needs to do this only if it can’t find a suitable site for a PDF, but we (the cabinet) think there is no such place in Malaysia,” he had reportedly said.

Noor Hasnah reiterated that once the two-year TOL has been issued, Lynas has ten months to use Lamp’s residue to prove that it can be processed into a commercial product and that its PDF proposal would be suitable to store the residue.

“They have not done this on a commercial scale. They had done this on their lab or pilot scale, so now they have to run it on their commercial facillity,” she said, adding that the residue would need to be re-characterised to help prove that its proposed PDF is suited for the residue.

If that fails, Lynas would need to ship it out of the country, she said.

Fulfilled four out of seven conditions

She also told reporters that Lynas has already fulfilled four out if seven conditions needed for the TOL to be issued.

The remaining conditions to be fulfilled are to appoint an independent consultant to ensure compliance with regulations, to propose plans to immobilise radioactive elements in the waste, and an emergency response plan to prevent it from spreading to surrounding areas.

azlanThe first condition is part of the five original conditions imposed when the TOL was approved, while the latter two are new conditions imposed by Science Minister Maximus Ongkili after hearing an appeal by Kuantan residents to overturn the licence.

Noor Hasnah also said that the parliamentary select committee (PSC) on Lynas’ 31 recommendations do not directly affect issuance of the licence.

“The PSC’s findings only reaffirmed what was already decided by the board,” she said, adding that monitoring of Lamp would be intensified as a result.

However, she denied that the PSC was a waste of time because no one knew its recommendations until its report was tabled.

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