KUALA LUMPUR, June 19 (Bernama) -- The Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on a rare earth processing plant in Gebeng, Kuantan concluded that the factory is not a nuclear plant and proposed a temporary operating licence (TOL) be issued for the plant to commence operation.
This was among the six findings found in the PSC report on Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP) which also contained 31 suggestions tabled in the Dewan Rakyat today.
"The committee proposes that a Class A TOL be issued so that the LAMP project can process limited lanthanide concentrates in stages as well as being supervised directly by enforcement agencies," the report said.
However, the committee stressed that LAMP needed to adhere to all regular licensing requirements as well as additional conditions imposed in the TOL and the data obtained at this stage would be the base for licence approval.
Based on scientific facts, legal provisions and information obtained from experts, the committee is satisfied that the LAMP project is a chemical factory which produces rare earth and is not a nuclear plant nor is it involved in mining.
"The committee is satisfied the LAMP project has complied with all necessary standards and legal requirements in Malaysia based on international standard practice.
"In fact, some of the legal provisions and standards imposed on LAMP are more stringent compared to international standards," the report said
The Lynas project is a project of Lynas Malaysia Sdn Bhd which aimed to process raw lanthanide concentrates imported from Mount Weld in Western Australia to produce rare earth oxides and carbonates at the Gebeng Industrial Area in Kuantan Pahang.
On March 20, the Dewan Rakyat passed a proposal to set up a committee comprising members of Parliament to study issues of public concerns as well as the safety standard of the project. However only five Barisan Nasional and one independent members took part after the opposition turned down nominations for the committee.
Among the issues raised by certain parties related to Lynas were the safety of radiation exposure, environment, health and residue management.
The committee said that the LAMP project had also provided a control system as required under national legislations and international standards to ensure public safety and health as well as environmental protection for the plant to operate temporarily.
The report also explained that lanthanide concentrates used by Lynas factory is not radioactive material but is a naturally occurring radioactive material (NORM).
He said the residue produced from LAMP was also not radioactive waste but residue containing NORM.
"As the product contains elements of natural radioactivity such as uranium and torium, it is not controlled in many countries but the material is controlled in Malaysia by the Atomic Energy Licensing Board," he said.
According to the committee, the Lynas factory is not a major accident hazard installation.
On the management of residues, the committee proposed that the residue produced by LAMP be brought out of Malaysia if a study on a recycling plant could not identify a location.
Apart from that, the committee also proposed that the premises licence should only be issued by the Kuantan Municipal Council to Lynas after it had met all licensing approvals and issuance conditions of AELB.
The committee also proposed that a monitoring committee be set up comprising related agencies, non-governmental organisations and authorised experts to monitor LAMP's operation continuously.
The committee also held three public hearings in May and meetings with foreign rare earth experts before preparing the report.