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Lynas plant gets Malaysia green light

Publication Date : 20-06-2012

 

The Malaysian authorities yesterday gave approval for the muhc-talked-about Lynas Advanced Materials Plant to be awarded a temporary operating licence after finding that it has met all the requirements.

At the same time, the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant made 31 recommendations that are concerned with the safe and transparent running of the plant in Gebeng, Kuantan.

In its report tabled at the Dewan Rakyat, the PSC recommended that the plant could go ahead with processing raw materials in stages under the monitoring of enforcement agencies.

The report said: “The committee is satisfied that the project has complied with standards and laws in Malaysia which are in line with international practices. In fact, more stringent rules have been imposed on the plant than international standards.”

The PSC was also satisfied that the project had in place a system that ensured public safety and environmental protection.

It proposed that a monitoring committee, made up of related agencies, non-governmental organisations and experts, be formed to continuously look into operations at the plant.

The PSC also found that the radiation exposure from the plant was low and safe.

It said that workers would be exposed to an average radiation dosage of two millisieverts (mSv) a year which was below the permitted dosage of 20mSv a year.

“The amount of radiation exposure to the public is 0.002mSv a year while the permitted dosage is 1mSv a year,” it added.

The PSC also recommended that an environmental audit be conducted every six months by a third party registered with the Department of Environment (DOE).

It said the health risks arising from the project were much lower than those of mining activities and at the Asian Rare Earth plant in Bukit Merah, thorium processing plants and nuclear power plants.

The PSC also recommended a baseline health study to be carried out on the number of related diseases such as leukaemia, cancer, congenital malformation, asthma and upper respiratory tract infection.

On the recycling of the residue of the plant, the PSC said it should be below 1 Becquerel per gramme (Bq/g) even though some countries like Britain allowed for such material to be 5Bq/g.

On the enforcement committee, the PSC said it should comprise the Kuantan Municipal Council, Atomic Energy Licensing Board, DOE, Department of Occupational Safety and Health, and the health ministry.

It said that the DOE and the atomic authority should quickly set up their branch offices at the Gebeng industrial area to fulfil their supervisory and monitoring role.

The PSC noted that awareness of the plant had been created through public engagement programmes and on-site visits, but said that more should be done to increase the transparency of the project.

It recommended that the company set aside 1 per cent of its gross annual sales for research and development, of which half should go towards research on residue management.

 

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