MALAYSIA Tanah Tumpah Darahku



10 APRIL 2024

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

It'll be 86 years before the leasehold on Lynas PDF site expires

The Lynas rare earth processing plant got conditional renewal lately and the condition to remove its cracking and leaching facility by July has become the focus of attention.

However, the radioactive wastes produced by Lynas until July and the permanent disposal facility (PDF) are still a major concern of civil groups.

After several postponements, Lynas decided to construct its PDF next to its processing plant in the Gebeng Industrial Area, near the Pahang capital Kuantan.

The plan was approved by the authority but the PDF site’s land title has a major issue which will make the permanent disposal facility not permanent anymore.

According to the land grant of the PDF site, the owner of the land Lot 31375 is Gading Senggara Property Sdn Bhd.

This company is believed to be associated with the royalty-linked developer of the PDF - Gading Senggara Sdn Bhd.

According to the land grant, this industrial land has a leasehold title with a maximum tenure of 99 years. The land title will be reverted back to the Pahang state on June 22, 2109.

PDF leasehold expires in 86 years

In other words, despite Lynas’ plans to store radioactive waste in the PDF, the site’s land lease will expire in 86 years.

Although 86 years may seem like a lifetime to a person, it is only a blink of an eye for radionuclides elements. Take thorium-232 as an example, its half-life decay period is as long as 14.05 billion years.

Lynas rare earth waste disposal area in Gebeng, Pahang

The half-life decay period refers to the time required for the quantity of a radionuclide element to decay from an unstable atomic nucleus to half of its initial value.

In response to a query about PDF’s land lease, an officer with the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (Mosti) said they are unable to respond as they don’t want to affect the appealing process of Lynas on conditions of its operating licence.

Malaysiakini has reached out to Lynas to get a response on its PDF management plan after the land lease expires.

Failed to convert waste into fertiliser

The cracking and leaching process of the Lynas plant produces radioactive Water Leach Purification (WLP) residue and the Australian mining firm had initially planned to commercialise the waste into a fertiliser dubbed "Condisoil".

The research and development plan received public backlash.

Therefore, when the former Pakatan Harapan government renewed its operating licence in 2019, one of the conditions required Lynas to stop all research and development on Condisoil.

Later, the plan for handling radioactive waste was altered to burial in Malaysia permanently. Lynas' rare earth plant was granted a temporary operating licence for two years in September 2012, and one of the licence conditions was that Lynas must disclose the location and details of the PDF site.

However, Lynas has never disclosed the location of the PDF site, which has been criticised by anti-Lynas activists.

The Lynas rare earth processing plant

In August 2019, the Pakatan Harapan government’s stance switched from "removing waste elsewhere" to "removing the cracking and leaching process". The licence conditions they issued included withdrawing the cracking and leaching process from Malaysia by July 2023 and to construct a PDF site for the WLP radioactive waste produced since the plant was established.

To meet this requirement, Lynas selected Bukit Ketam in Pahang as the location for the PDF site in January 2020. However, the Department of Environmental rejected the plan as the proposed site is located within the water catchment area.

Afterwards, Lynas initiated Plan B to build the PDF next to its rare earth plant in the Gebeng Industrial Park. This plan was approved and the construction of the facility has reached 32 percent completion.

The government agreed to renew Lynas' licence on several conditions, one of which is to relocate the cracking and leaching facility - which produces radioactive Water Leach Purification (WLP) residue - out of Malaysia before July 2023.

The company decried the conditions and it is currently appealing against this condition. - Mkini

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.