Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Lynas plant meets all requirements

KUALA LUMPUR: The Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant has given its green light for the company to be awarded a temporary operating licence (TOL) as it has met all the requirements.

In its report tabled in the Dewan Rakyat Tuesday, the PSC recommended for the TOL to be issued so that the plant can process raw materials in stages while being monitored by enforcement agencies.

The 71-page report was tabled by committee chairman Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin with Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia reserving time for it to be debated by lawmakers.

The report contains the committee's findings and recommendations following three public hearings held in Kuantan and Kuala Lumpur to gather feedback from individuals, interest groups and experts on the rare earth plant in Gebeng, Pahang.

"The committee is satisfied that the Lynas 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 compared to international standards," it said in the report that puts forward 31 recommendations.

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

"At this point, the plant has met all the licensing conditions as well as additional requirements imposed on it. Such data will be the basis for consideration in the next step in the licensing process," it said.

The report proposed that a monitoring committee be formed to continuously look into the plant's operations.

"This committee will consist of related agencies, non-governmental organisations and qualified experts," it said.

The PSC also found that the radiation exposure from the plant in Gebeng, Kuantan was safe and at a low level.

"We have noted that based on research, workers at the plant will be exposed to an average radiation dosage of two millisieverts (mSv) a year from the plant which is below the permitted dosage of 20mSv a year.

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

It also recommended for an environmental audit to be conducted by a third party registered with the Department of Environment every six months when the plant is in operation to ensure that it complied with the Environmental Quality Act 1974.

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

"We recommend a baseline health study, led by the Health Ministry, to be immediately carried out on the number of related diseases such as leukaemia, cancer, congenital malformation, asthma and upper respiratory tract infection," the PSC said.

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

"We also recommend that Lynas presents the plan and location of its permanent disposal facility for the Atomic Energy Licensing Board's approval no later than 10 months after the temporary operating license is issued," it said.

The PSC was set up to look into the project's safety standards and issues which have attracted public attention.-TheStar


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