Lynas: It’s safe to transport rare earths

Posted on May 23, 2011. Filed under: Pollution |

-NST-

KUANTAN:Lynas Corporation, which is building a rare earth plant in Gebeng near here, said yesterday the rare earths mined at Mount Weld in Western Australia are safe to be transported by road, rail and sea.

The Australian Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) had in June 2009 granted Lynas approval for safe transport of rare earths from the Mount Weld mine to the Fremantle Port in Australia, it said in a statement to the New Straits Times.

“The EPA concluded that there was no radiation risk to public health or to the environment. Lynas is also confident that its processes and procedures will continue to meet all regulations and are completely safe.”
The company said some statements made recently by political and special interest groups were inaccurate and misleading.

It claimed that the Mount Weld rare earths concentrate was not classified as dangerous goods by the criteria of the Australian Dangerous Goods Code for transport by road or rail, and was not classified as dangerous goods for transport by sea under the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code 2006.

“The Lynas rare earths concentrate has been irresponsibly compared with the Magellan Metals’ lead carbonate concentrate. There can be no comparison between the two,” it said, referring to the decision by the Australian authorities to stop the export of Magellan’s raw materials from Australia because of a lead scare early this year.
In terms of thorium levels, Lynas said the statements made by two Australian politicians — Lynn McLaren and Robin Chapple — recently represented a personal, political point of view and contained a number of factual and scientific inaccuracies.

“The Mount Weld rare earths concentrate is not considered as a radioactive material. The levels of the naturally occurring thorium are so low in the concentrate that the material is not regulated for transport as classified by the criteria of the Australian Code of Practice for the Safe Transport of Radioactive Material 2001 and not regulated for transport as classified by the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Safe Transport of Radioactive Material regulations.”

On the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant being constructed in Gebeng, the company said the Radiological Impact Assessment completed by Nuclear Malaysia on the storage of the residues showed that they were safe and posed no risk to the public.
However, Lynas has taken additional safety steps by planning to place the residues in specially-designed storage cells to prevent any leakage into the environment.

“These storage cells are monitored and regulated by both Lynas and Malaysia’s Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) to ensure full compliance.”

Lynas is also subjected to strict conditions by the AELB and it must obtain a decommissioning licence, which includes the safe storage of any of the remaining residues.

“Lynas has also agreed to place funds with the Malaysian government to ensure safe management of any remaining residues as required by the AELB.”

Lynas began its education effort in Kuantan in 2009 with a series of public briefings and they can be viewed at http://www.facebook.com/lynasmalaysia.

“We continue to engage the public through social media, answering very specific questions about the plant. Furthermore, Lynas welcomes the appointment of an independent panel currently studying our plans for the plant in Kuantan.”

Read more: Lynas: It’s safe to transport rare earths http://www.nst.com.my/nst/articles/13LYNA/Article/#ixzz1NA6l8LoE
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