Kuantan: The waste treatment process proposed by Australia's Lynas Corporation from its refinery in Gebeng, Kuantan has yet to be given the stamp of approval by Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB).
AELB directory-general Raja Abdul Aziz Raja Adnan (left) said the process has yet to be tested because there is nothing to test.
"They have not finished the (production) cycle yet. There is no residue to process," he said on the sidelines of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Nuclear Security workshop in Kuala Lumpur today.
As such, the AELB has yet to be able to verify that the process is safe or that it will truly reduce the radioactive residue from the Lynas Advance Materials Plant (Lamp) to low-level radiation materials that will be safe for transport and handling as commercial products.
However, Raja Aziz gave his assurance that the AELB is vigorously monitoring the refinery.
He said regulators will be using the trial run of the Lynas plant during the TOL period to assess and monitor the situation.
This includes determining if the waste processing actually works and if the by-products created will be safe for commercial use.
Malaysiakini had asked Raja Aziz to elaborate on his remark at a press conference earlier that it is the agency's duty to ensure any residue or processed by-products from the Lynas plant is rendered harmless before being marketed as commercial products.
He was responding to claims that Lynas' WLP waste cannot be commercialised and queries on the status of the FGD and NUF wastes which Lynas has said is well below the radiation level that would require AELB oversight.
Lynas has previously explained the nature of the waste as:
- water leach purification residue (WLP)
- flue gas sulphurisation residue (FGD)
- neutralisation underflow residue (NUF)
Toilet bowls and bananas
Raja Aziz said there is natural radioactivity in a wide number of commercial items and agriculturul products.
"Let me explain to you about natural radioactivity, I have just spoken about toilet bowls being detected by our (radiation detecting equipment at ports of entry)," he said.
"That is a very good example of natural radioactivity... occurring in our toilet bowls. The closest thing that you come to every morning.
"This is very important, ya. if you say that there is no radioactivity in the things that we use, then it would not be giving the right picture.
"What is more important is that the level of radioactivity is below the level set by international standards, as well as national regulations.
"This is important. You will find radioactivity even in bananas. Therefore if you think you will not be able to sell things which have natural radioactivity, (it is) not impossible ...
"Because in waste management, the IAEA allows for dilution... there are several principles. You dilute and you disperse it, you concentrate and you contain it and the last is delay and decay.
"The NUF and the FGD ... are the responsibility of the AELB to detect and to verify that (these are) below the radioactivity concentration permitted. If it is below the radioactivity level, we do not regulate - it will be released to other authorities (like the Department of Environment) to regulate.
"To say automatically FGD and NUF (are exempted from our monitoring), in the temporary operating licence period, would be very wrong.
"We are there to make sure it is below radiation levels before we can certify that it is out of (our) regulatory control."--Courtesy of Malaysiakini