THE temporary operating licence (TOL) granted by the government for Lynas Advanced Material Plant (Lamp) to process rare earth from Australia is a much awaited decision, said radiology expert Datuk Dr Looi Hoong Wah.
Lauding the move, he said that there was no radiation emitted from Lamp in Gebeng, adding that radiation could never be measured outside the boundaries of the plant by even the most sensitive equipment.
He said the public dose limits for exposure from uranium mining, nuclear plants and other plants were usually set at 1 millisieverts (mSv) per year above background.
"However, experts, including Professor Wade Allison of Oxford University, argued that the dose limit can safely be raised to 100 mSv, based on health statistics."Compare this with the dose of 0.002 mSv per year of exposure for people living within 1km of the Lynas plant in the worst case scenario."
He added that close observation of the Lynas RIA (radiological impact assessment) report together with United Nations atomic energy experts reports, the first two most voluminous residue stream from Lynas would have less than 12 parts per million (ppm) of thorium, and the average Malaysian soil has 20 ppm of thorium.
Looi added that the issuance of TOL to Lynas meant that 1,750 high-quality jobs had been saved, as there were 350 employed directly by the plant and the job multiplier effect of any major industrial plant was four and eight times that number. The construction of the plant would add hundreds of millions to the gross domestic product (GDP), he said.
"Each year, the plant will generate billions of ringgit in sales of the rare earth (economic output) and millions more in total labour income. These figures include both direct and secondary effects.
"Direct effects reflect the plant's expenditure for goods, services and labour, while the secondary effects include subsequent spending attributable to the presence of the plant and its employees as plant expenditure filters through the economy.
"The subsequent production of the plant is expected to be in the billions of ringgit and this is considered to be part of the GDP.
"Billions more would be added to the GDP as a result of the spin-off effect."
He added that since the billions of ringgit worth of rare earth exports would be part of the nation's export statistics, the country's exports and trade surplus would also increase by the billions.
"When our GDP is increased by the billions, the government will be allowed to print billions of ringgit to pay for the schools, hospitals, subsidies and scholarships and many more services and infrastructural development for the people, without any devaluation of the ringgit."
Meanwhile, the Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) confirmed that Lynas (Malaysia) would have to remove its industrial residue out of Malaysia, as per the TOL issued by the board.
Its director-general, Raja Datuk Abdul Aziz Raja Adnan, said that there was no doubt between the parties involved in the deal that the residue should be moved out from Malaysia as and when directed by the board.
"The management of the residue is the sole responsibility of Lynas. They are obligated to take it out of Malaysia as required."
He said Lynas had submitted two letters of undertaking, the first by Lynas Australia committing itself to remove the residue out of Malaysia, and the second by Lynas Malaysia re-affirming the same.
He said claims that the removal of residue was non-binding for Lynas should not arise as it was legally binding and AELB would enforce it.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said it was up to Lynas Corporation Ltd to ship out all of its waste from its plant here.
"The company is supposed to process the residue into a product and will choose a suitable market before exporting it out of the country," he said after launching "The Heart Exhibition" here yesterday.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai says it is up to Lynas Corporation Ltd to ship out all of its waste from its plant here
Resource: New Sunday Times, Page: 10
Date: Sunday, 9 September 2012