Ministers conflicted on what to do with Lynas wastes

Kuantan MP Fuziah Salleh took to the public to expose rare ore refinery factory Lynas for being silent on the long half-life of their radioactive waste. Fuziah made headlines by claiming the factory produced 1.5 million tonnes of heavy metal waste at the groundwater beneath Lynas. She also claimed the waste would affect villagers within the vicinity, who use wells daily for water.


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Lynas is a chemical operating factory that refines rare earth ores from the Lynas mine in Western Australia. When unearthed, the ores are accompanied by radioactive substances that need to be separated, and then stored or repurposed safely.


In response, Lynas refuted Fuziah’s claim, laying the fact that ore extracting plants should not be compared to a nuclear plant that produces more lethal radioactive substances like uranium. Also, radiation risks are not determined by the half-life of a material alone, but by the level of exposure.


Out of the blue, Entrepreneur Development Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Redzuan Md Yusof criticised Minister of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change (MESTECC) Yeo Bee Yin for planning to ship out Lynas waste back to West Australia.


The critique came after Deputy Minister of MESTECC Isnaraissah Munirah Majilis announced in Dewan Rakyat they had already made plans to ship Lynas’s radioactive waste back to Australia, in regard to the reports made by Fuziah.


Besides, Redzuan elaborated there were already studies done to handle the issue, and suggested the government to make the report public so the people would understand. He added the decision was not business friendly, and not part of their contract.


On the other hand, Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) and the Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) President S.M. Mohamed Idris slammed Redzuan for his comment, claiming it was unacceptable to put profit over the lives of people. He also added this whole situation had nothing to do with Redzuan and should be the responsibility of MESTECC.


Idris’s thoughts were parallel with Fuziah’s, who also said Redzuan had no ‘locus standi’ to comment on the issue, further claiming Yeo should be the rightful one in charge.


Regardless, Lynas reiterated they are ready to comply with the recommendation from the review committee.