Western Australia says no to Lynas waste

By Shannon Teoh
The Malaysian Insider
Mar 23, 2012

KUALA LUMPUR, March 23 — The Western Australian government, where Lynas Corp’s rare earths mine is located, has said it will not accept waste from the firm’s controversial refinery in Kuantan even if it is not radioactive.

Putrajaya said early this month Lynas, which plans to transport ore from Mount Weld in the Australian state, to its RM2.3 billion plant in Gebeng, had promised to send its residue abroad if it could not find a suitable waste disposal site in Malaysia.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai had also said late last month the Sydney-based firm must find a way to ship the waste back to Australia, failing which no temporary operating licence (TOL) will be issued.

But Western Australia Minister for Mines and Petroleum Norman Moore told the state’s legislative council that it would not allow the residue, which Lynas says it can treat to reduce its radioactivity, to be returned to its source.

“Yes, as Commonwealth legislation prohibits the importation by Australia of any waste product produced from offshore processing of any mineral resources purchased here,” he said in a written response to Mining and Pastoral Region member Robin Chapple obtained by The Malaysian Insider.

Chapple, who is Greens spokesman for mines and petroleum, nuclear issues and waste management, had asked on Tuesday if waste from the Gebeng plant would be accepted if it was not radioactive after being treated.

Local nuclear regulators had said on March 1 Australia’s refusal to accept radioactive waste should not affect Lynas’ efforts to return residue from its rare earths plant to the source.

Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) director-general Raja Abdul Aziz Raja Adnan said this was because the waste from the Gebeng refinery would not be radioactive once it was treated by Lynas.

The Australian miner has assured Malaysia that it will be able to reduce the concentration of radioactivity in the waste products so that the residue could be transformed into commercially viable aggregates, he noted.

AELB approved Lynas’ TOL in January, subject to several conditions, despite continued protests from local residents, environmentalists and the federal opposition.

The Australian firm is planning to ship rare earths ore from its mine in Mount Weld to its Kuantan plant, where it will be processed into highly sought after rare earths metals.

Thousands of anti-Lynas protestors attended an opposition-backed rally by Himpunan Hijau last month in the largest protest yet against the rare earths plant that is expected to fire up later this year.

Critics of the refinery want Putrajaya to direct the nation’s nuclear regulator to reverse its decision to approve Lynas’ TOL, which will let the Australian miner embark on a two-year trial run.

They allege that Lynas has not given enough assurances on how it will handle the low-level radioactive waste that will be produced at the refinery.

The government has been under pressure from groups to shut down the rare earths project over safety fears, but Putrajaya has stood its ground on the project that was first earmarked for Terengganu.

Parliament earlier this week approved the formation of a Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on the controversial rare earths refinery.

Pakatan Rakyat (PR) subsequently announced a boycott of the panel, saying it has no power to decide the fate of the RM2.3 billion project.

  1. #1 by yhsiew on Friday, 23 March 2012 - 2:40 pm

    Of course Western Australia says no to Lynas waste. Imagine who wants this kind of deal: Malaysia takes the money and Western Australia keeps the radioactive waste.

  2. #2 by Winston on Friday, 23 March 2012 - 4:01 pm

    “Local nuclear regulators had said on March 1 Australia’s refusal to accept radioactive waste should not affect Lynas’ efforts to return residue from its rare earths plant to the source.” – end of quote

    So, our local nuclear regulators will force the Aussie government to accept the radioactive wastes.
    Perhaps, the shipment can be done on Royal Malaysian Naval vessels.
    Another very important fact of life in this country, is never, ever trust those who say that they will dispose of the waste safely, either in a remote area in this country or ship them somewhere else.
    Now, who is there to guarantee that this will be done?
    What is there to stop the company from dumping them quietly, perhaps in the dead of night, in an out of place area which is close by?
    We know of many cases of local manufacturers dumping toxic wastes in the jungles!
    So, the best solution is not to have this type of business here in the first place.
    I’m sure we are not that hard-up for this type of business – a business which their own government don’t want in the first place!!!!!
    Don’t we have plenty of natural resources at our disposal?

  3. #3 by sheriff singh on Friday, 23 March 2012 - 4:08 pm

    It is like taking your dog for a walk to poo in somebody’s yard and not be responsible for it. Let the unfortunate fellow clean up.

    Not cricket, cobber.

  4. #4 by cseng on Friday, 23 March 2012 - 4:09 pm

    PM is considering to get Seri Perdana as the waste dump site…. This is as serious as PM and The Hell Minister’s statement.

    Kill the Lyansour of Gebang, pet of 1 malaysia.

  5. #5 by SENGLANG on Friday, 23 March 2012 - 4:54 pm

    Australia has been famous for its laws that provide protection for its environment. This is not surprise at all and it is expected. This was also one of the reason why Lynas come and set up its plant in Malaysia shore.
    The BN has been caught. Lynas is here to stay no doubt about it. We all will lose out at the folly of BN government also never doubt about that. BN will never buck out and what they will do is do all the justification so that LYNAS will stay.

  6. #6 by Bigjoe on Friday, 23 March 2012 - 4:58 pm

    A company that the CEO issues a statement that absolutely is not known to be true, is not a company that we should do business with no matter what else the issues are. If we do business with such companies, then fraud is a matter of time only, not if..

  7. #7 by atlk on Friday, 23 March 2012 - 9:34 pm

    In reply to the first commentor, yhsiew.

    Unfortunately, there is no money for Malaysia to take. Lynas got tax exemption… But Lynas need to pay the Australian government a huge sum of money for duties or taxes I think.

  8. #9 by Cinapek on Friday, 23 March 2012 - 11:32 pm

    Either the Aussies are very good salesmen or our Govt officials are not very smart or maybe both.

    They send us their rare earth for processing but they do not want to take back the radioactive waste it creates. Now the latest is they will send us their illegal immigrants and in return we send them the processed ones. On both counts we have the short end of the stick.

  9. #10 by boh-liao on Saturday, 24 March 2012 - 5:37 am

    Western Australian residents SO HAPPY there r true SUCKERs/DUMBOs in Pahang n Malaysia

  10. #11 by Winston on Saturday, 24 March 2012 - 9:17 am

    #9 Cinapek,
    Either the Aussies are very good salesmen or our Govt officials are not very smart or maybe both. – end of quote

    No, the Aussies are not required to be good salesmen, they only needed to find a corrupt government that will do their bidding.
    No, our government officials are very smart where there are benefits for them, maybe not for the country!!!
    After so many years of being played out very nicely at every turn by the UMNO/BN government Malaysians must be very hard-headed when looking at everything the Federal government does!!!!!!!!!

  11. #12 by boh-liao on Saturday, 24 March 2012 - 10:28 am

    Wonder HOW MANY NEW SUPER RICH UmnoB/BN kakis created as a result of dis plant in Pahang?

  12. #13 by PoliticoKat on Sunday, 25 March 2012 - 10:56 pm

    No problem, Lynas will remove the toxic waste by dumping it in international waters just off Malaysia’s shore. So the waste is legally abroad to satisfy Malaysia and not in ‘my backyard’ to satisfy their home nation Australia.

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