Liow wants Lynas TOL details made public

Posted on February 5, 2012. Filed under: Pollution |

-themalaysianinsider.com-

By Lisa J. Ariffin
February 05, 2012

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 5 — The government should disclose details of the temporary operating license (TOL) issued to Lynas Corp to the public, MCA minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said today.

The Health Minister said he hopes the Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) would reveal “on what basis” the TOL was issued to Lynas.

“We urge the Government to strictly keep tabs on the refinery and do all it can to ensure public safety,” Liow was quoted as saying today by The Star Online after attending the MCA Kepong Chinese New Year open house.

Liow heads a watchdog committee on the Lynas rare earth refinery. — file pic

Liow, who is also MCA deputy president, heads a watchdog committee on the Lynas rare earth refinery.He said the committee has completed its research on the plant and submitted its findings to the government.

He added that his ministry is also keeping a close watch on the issue.

He also said the government and relevant agencies should do more to engage with Kuantan residents on the license.

On Wednesday, AELB granted a TOL to Lynas for its RM2.5 billion rare earth plant in Gebeng after almost a year of sustained public protests.

The regulator said it decided on Monday to approve the Australian mining giant’s application despite receiving 1,123 comments on Lynas’ documents during the public feedback period, which ended last week.

AELB’s decision will finally allow Lynas to fire up its controversial refinery, which has raised fears of radiation pollution among residents of the east coast city and environmentalists.

The Stop Lynas Coalition criticised the decision, claiming the issue of a permanent disposal facility for radioactive waste had yet to be resolved.

The plant will be monitored for the next two years during which Lynas must meet safety requirements before AELB issues a full licence to ramp up operations.

Lynas said last week it expects the start of operations to be delayed to the second quarter from the first quarter of this year.

Plans to start operations in September last year were scuppered when Putrajaya bowed to public pressure last April and put the project on ice pending the review by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

In July last year, the AELB adopted 11 recommendations set out by the review of the refinery and said it would not allow Lynas to begin operations or import rare earth ore until all conditions, which include a comprehensive, long-term and detailed plan for managing radioactive waste, were met.

Lynas Corp failed to meet every condition in its first proposals, according to the regulator.

Lynas’ local subsidiary has insisted it can begin operations within six weeks of being given the go-ahead for the plant, which will produce rare earth that is crucial in the manufacture of high technology products such as wind turbines, hybrid cars and smartphones.

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