Lynas the ‘winner’, Kuantan MP says after six-month licence renewal

Jerry Choong
Kuantan MP Fuziah Salleh says the six-month operational extension granted by the Atomic Energy Licensing Board yesterday makes Lynas the winner, despite the conditions attached to its licence renewal. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 16 — Kuantan MP Fuziah Salleh today expressed her regret that the government is letting rare earths producer Lynas run its refinery in Gebeng, Pahang for another six months, saying the decision means locals will have to “suffer” radiation risks from its waste.

The deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Department said the six-month operational extension granted by the Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) yesterday makes the Australian miner the winner, despite the conditions attached to its licence renewal.

“Lynas is the winner with these new conditions,” she wrote in a statement from Mecca where she is currently performing her Haj.

“The same goes for the companies supplying Lynas who will profit, while the rakyat and environment will continue to suffer health and pollution risks,” she added.

She said her regret was that the Pakatan Harapan government of today has to “bear the burden” inherited by the previous Barisan Nasional government, asserting that Lynas signed an undertaking for the removal of its Water Leach Purification (WLP) radioactive residue from Gebeng previously.

However, she noted that the AELB decision could be the last resort as the present government has limited options due to its contract with Lynas.

“Lynas should not have been allowed to operate in 2012 without a permanent radioactive WLP waste management plan. What insanity did the previous government do in believing that radioactive WLP waste can be permitted into being recycled as condisoil?” she asked.

Fuziah said her biggest regret is the exposure of the public to potential health hazards from the radioactive waste over the next four years pending the completion of Lynas’ cracking and leaching facility in Australia.

“In that time the people of Kuantan must accept the fact that Lynas' WLP radioactive waste which now reaches one million tonnes will be disposed of in Pahang. The state government abetted the previous government in permitting Lynas to operate.

“In this matter I stand in solidarity with the people of Kuantan, in bearing the health risks and environmental pollution stemming from this scenario,” she said.

Fuziah is not alone. In a separate statement, Parti Sosialis Malaysia condemned the AELB’s decision.

Its central committee and environmental bureau member Sharan Raj said the extension is a betrayal of public trust and expectations.

“Pakatan Harapan permitting Lynas to stay sends a wrong signal to the world; that Malaysia is willing to accept polluting industries as long as such industries abide by the politicians’ cosmetic conditions,” he said.

In announcing the renewal yesterday, the AELB said the conditions for Lynas to do business in Malaysia include building a cracking and leaching facility abroad, identifying a specific lot to build a permanent disposal facility (PDF) with relevant written consent from the state government, and to submit a complete PDF building plan with a sufficient financing plan to pay for its construction and operation.

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