Lynas denies claims plant breached law in waste storage

Lazareen Thaveethu Moses

Lynas claimed that the Pakatan Harapan government’s review committee had found that the company was abiding by key waste storage regulations. — AFP pic

KUALA LUMPUR, April 18 — Lynas Malaysia has denied Semambu state assemblyman Lee Chean Chung’s claims that the rare earth plant had broken the law by storing large amount of scheduled waste, or Neutralisation Underflow Residue (NUF), for a long period of time.

Lynas claimed that the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government’s review committee had found that the company was abiding by key waste storage regulations.

“The state assemblyman’s comments are incorrect and they are not new,” its vice-president and managing director Datuk Mashal Ahmad said in a statement.

“The management of residues was a key subject of the Pakatan Harapan government’s review committee, which found Lynas is compliant with relevant regulations and our residue storage facilities are operated in a proper manner.”

He also added that the findings were consistent with various independent and scientific reviews, including that of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Citing Regulation 9(6) of the Storage of Scheduled Wastes under the Environmental Quality (Scheduled Wastes) Regulations 2005, Mashal elaborated that “a waste generator may apply to the Director General of the Department of Environment (DpE) in writing to store more than 20 million tonnes of scheduled wastes.”

He, however, did not state if Lynas had made any such application on the storage of scheduled wastes to the DoE.

However, Mashal’s statement ran contrary to Lee’s claim, as reported by The Edge, that the maximum amount of scheduled wastes that can be collected at the site is 20 tonnes for up to 180 days.

This, Lee said, was according to Regulation 4 of the Disposal of Scheduled Wastes, Environmental Quality (Scheduled Wastes) Regulations 2005.

Lynas also mentioned that the DoE has periodically allowed for the storage of scheduled wastes, NUF on site and has permitted Lynas to pursue research and development (R&D) on the reuse of NUF.

According to the plant, Lynas R&D has showed that NUF has several commercial uses, for example in the construction and agriculture industries.

Yesterday, The Edge reported Lee saying that up till December 2018, Lynas had compiled 1.13 million tonnes of NUF wastes beside its plant, in the six years of its operations in Gebeng, Kuantan.

Lee was also quoted as saying that the Environmental Impact Assessment report regarding the NUF waste disposal that was submitted to the DoE did not meet the required criteria to guarantee the well-being, health and environment of Gebeng, and thus should be rejected.

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