KUALA LUMPUR: Fearing a possibility of exposure to radioactive waste, an opposition MP today questioned the government’s decision to pick Gebeng in Kuantan, Pahang, as a site for Lynas to set up its permanent disposal facility (PDF).

Speaking in Parliament today, Fuziah Salleh (PH-Kuantan) cited the preliminary environmental impact assessment (EIA) by Lynas in 2018 where it was pointed out that less than one metre below ground of the selected site (Gebeng) is groundwater.

“How can you set up a PDF in that area? If you refer to the EIA report by Lynas in 2018 that area has underground water which is less than one meter deep and this waste is radioactive that has life of 14 billion years,“ she highlighted.

“Bukit Ketam, previously selected for the PDF, was also rejected by the Department of Environment (DOE) because it is a water catchment area,“ she said.

“I want to ask what is the rationale in selecting Gebeng as a site for the PDF,“ she said.

She was asking a supplementary question to Science, Technology, and Innovation Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba.

Adham replied that the site will be built by raising it to five metres from sea level and the sea level at the Gebeng area is also safe.

Additionally, he said, an evaluation is now being conducted and a decision will be made in November this year on the PDF.

Earlier, Adham Baba said the government is aware of the collected low level radioactive waste which he said requires the process of setting up the PDF to be speeded up.

He said that before granting the approval to set the site at Gebeng, the Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) said two main aspects in terms of its assessment should be adhered to.

This includes the Radiological Impact Assessment (RIA) and Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).

Adham said Gebeng has been identified as suitable for the PDF as it is an industrial Gebeng area.

“Based on the preliminary assessment, it is found that the proposed area for the PDF is classified as a low risk area for massive flood,“ he added.

Bentong MP Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai then pointed out that more than one million tonnes of radioactive waste has been collected so far.

“With the climate change, we know anything could happen, like a massive flood, especially in the low area near the beach, or a tsunami. So I think radioactive waste management is not child’s play,“ he said.

“Lynas should have identified the location to set up the PDF before extending its license to 2023 as after 10 years of its establishment, Lynas has yet to adhere to the set conditions. I want to ask if AELB is sleeping on this issue or sleeping with the ‘enemy’,“ he questioned.

Lynas Corporation, Ltd. is an Australian rare earth mining company and has two major operations involving a mining and concentration plant at Mount Weld, Western Australia, and a refining facility at Kuantan.