Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Products with low radiation not hazardous

Commercial products made from processed rare earth waste generated by the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP) are no longer considered hazardous if the radiation emission does not exceed 1 becquerel (Bq) per gram.

Science, Technology and Inno­vation Minister Datuk Seri Dr Maxi­mus Ongkili said Malaysia practised a higher standard in radiation safety compared to the International Ato­mic Energy Agency (IAEA), which he said had deemed that the safe level of radioactivity is 5 Bq per gram or below.

However, Ongkili stressed that Lynas must comply with the conditions upon which it had been issued a temporary operating licence (TOL), which was to remove from Malaysia all residue generated by the plant, including all products made from the residue.

“In that processing stage, (if) the rate of radioactivity goes below 1 Bq per gram, then it doesn’t come under the Atomic Energy Licensing Act 1984 any more. It becomes just an ordinary product with ordinary residue that can be used for industrial purposes.

“This is an innovation that has been pegged as part of the licence and they (Lynas) have said they will do it, but if they don’t, then we will have to cancel the licence,” Maximus said in a press conference after launching the ministry’s Research, Development and Com­mercialisa­tion Convention here yesterday.

In a statement on Monday, Lynas said it would convert LAMP’s water leach purification (WLP) residue, which contains a low-level of naturally-occurring radioactive materials, into a commercially safe pro­duct called “synthetic aggregate”.

The company maintained that its managing director Mashal Ahmad had said the synthetic aggregate would be exported to other countries in accordance with international and local standards and regulations and used as civil engineering material.

Lynas also said the plant to convert the WLP residue had been built in LAMP and was now ready for operation.

Ongkili said it was up to Lynas to look for interested buyers for its products produced from the processed rare earth waste.



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