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Government must not relax conditions for Lynas’ operations

05 Aug 2020 / 14:18 H.

THE current government has been urged not to relax conditions imposed by the previous government on Lynas Corporation operations in Gebeng, Pahang. Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM), released a statement, asking that the current administration continue to put public health and environmental safety concerns first, in all its decision-making.

“We urge the current Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Khairy Jamaluddin, not to revisit and review the decision already taken by the previous government. Valuable public resources and time have already been spent for years on dealing with the controversial Lynas operations. It is time to follow the conditions imposed by the previous government and not reopen decisions that have been taken in the public interest,” SAM said in a statement.

SAM’s call comes in the wake of news that the current government will be reviewing the proposal for Lynas to continue research and development (R&D) of water leach purification (WLP) residue as Condisoil (a soil conditioner) for agricultural use. The government’s intention was revealed by Khairy in Parliament on Tuesday, when he said that the decision was subject to approval from the Cabinet, and the ministry will stick with plans to move the Lynas waste to a permanent disposal facility (PDF) if the R&D fails to be commercialised.

SAM raised its concerns and was alarmed at hearing this. “It appears that we have ignored the many years of reviews and controversies over the Lynas operations and its wastes, which eventually led to an independent expert assessment - Executive Committee Report (ECR) - and submitted to the former Ministry of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change (MESTECC) under the previous government.

The ECR revealed that the Department of Environment (DOE) had rejected Lynas’ application to conduct large-scale studies for kenaf and grain corn as previous studies showed among others, an increase in heavy metals after the use of Condisoil, chromium concentration exceeding limits, and the concentration of heavy metals during growth increased after Condisoil use.

This eventually resulted in the imposition of several conditions by the previous government for the renewal of Lynas’ operating licence last year, including the halt in further R&D on the recycling of the WLP radioactive residue as Condisoil for agriculture use.

“We reiterate our call to the MOSTI Minister to respect the conditions imposed for the renewal of the Lynas’ licence and focus attention on the PDF site in Bukit Ketam, Pahang.

“While we appreciate the Minister’s statement that the reports of all the studies will be presented to the local authorities for assessment before approval to build the PDF is issued by the AELB, SAM would like to underscore that complete transparency and public participation and engagement in the process must be ensured, as provided for by the law.

“These governments agencies must not be under any pressure to approve the PDF in haste and must ensure that all public health and safety, as well as environmental considerations, are properly evaluated and assessed, taking into account the views of the public with no compromises, especially when the WLP wastes will remain radioactive and hazardous for generations to come,” SAM said in the statement.

“Lynas should not be granted further extensions of its licence to operate pending a proper resolution of the handling of its wastes permanently,” it concluded.

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