The Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) and Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) welcome the Malaysian government’s move in not giving in to the pressure by Lynas Malaysia Sdn Bhd to revoke the previous operating conditions imposed in 2020, most importantly regarding shifting of the cracking and leaching process (which involves radioactive material) to outside of Malaysia.
In a media statement yesterday, the Minister of Science,Technology and Innovation, YB Chang Lih-Kang confirmed that the earlier condition that Lynas must stop importing and processing rare earths concentrate after July 1, 2023 is maintained. This means that Lynas can only refine the materials at the Gebeng plant. The “cracking and leaching” of lanthanide concentrate cannot be done here.
The renewal of the three-year licence granted to Lynas in 2020 also subjected Lynas to develop a permanent disposal facility (PDF) for its radioactive waste, and there can be no more importing of materials carrying low-level radioactive waste into Malaysia from July 2023.
In all these years of operations, Lynas has yet to put in place a PDF for the waste from the Water Leach Purification (WLP) process which contains radioactive wastes including thorium and uranium. The environmental impact assessment (EIA) report for the PDF in Gebeng approved on December 2021 by the Department of Environment, has raised concerns by concerned groups over the suitability of the site from safety and environmental grounds as it is located in flood prone and peat swamp area. The EIA approval is now being challenged by concerned citizens.
The Malaysian government should liaise with the Australian government on the safe handling and transport of these radioactive wastes back to Australia in accordance with relevant international conventions because radioactive wastes are not under the scope of the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal.
We should no longer carry the burden of storing radioactive waste for generations to come.
The government should remain steadfast with its decision and ensure that Lynas does not conduct any more processes that generate radioactive waste and ensure what has been generated thus far by Lynas is returned to Australia.
Mohideen Abdul Kader
President, Consumers’ Association of Penang
Hon. Secretary, Sahabat Alam Malaysia
Aid Watch Australia also welcomed the Malaysian government’s move to uphold the licence conditions imposed on Australia’s Lynas Rare Earth Ltd (Lynas) in not allowing it to import further lanthanide concentrate (LC) contaminated with radioactive materials at the expiry of its current licence from this July. Read their press release here.