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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        14  May 2011

Experts to review Lynas project

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The Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has agreed to appoint an expert team to review the health and safety aspects of the proposed rare earth processing facility to be undertaken by Lynas Malaysia Sdn Bhd in Gebeng, Pahang. The review will take place from May 29-June 3.

The panel is scheduled to complete and submit its report to the government by the end of June. Announcing this yesterday, Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said the government would make public the panel's findings and recommendations in the interest of transparency.

He also said there would be no importation into Malaysia of raw materials from Australia and no preoperating licence issued to Lynas pending completion of this exercise and a government decision based on the findings and recommendations.

"This is a People First Government and we will continue to give the highest priority to safeguarding their health and safety as well as the environment at all times," he said in a statement here, yesterday.

The decision by the government to appoint an independent panel of international experts for such a review comes amid concerns over the project's safety aspects.

Mustapa said the objectives of the IAEA team's mission would be to review compliance with relevant international safety standards and good practices and provide an independent expert opinion on safety issues, in particular, those relating to radiation safety.

The scope of the review process will include transportation, radiation protection (occupational, public and environmental), safety assessment, waste management and decommissioning and environmental remediation.

Interested parties, including residents and community groups, will have an opportunity to make representations to the panel.

"We expect that at least two days will be allocated to receiving representations from the public and stakeholders."

The expert team selected by the IAEA to undertake the review consists of nine persons.

The team will be lead by Dr Tero Varjoranta from Finland. He is the Director of the Division of Nuclear Fuel Cycle and Waste Technology at the IAEA Department of Nuclear Energy.

External experts are Jan van der Steen (Netherlands), Dr. Leo M. Lowe (Canada), Dr P. M. Balagopala Pillai (India), Dr. Dennis Wymer (United Kingdom) and Ulric Schwela (Finland).

Internal (IAEA) experts comprise Dr. Magnus Vesterlind (Sweden), Dr. Horst Monken Fernandes (Brazil) and Hanna Kajander (Finland), while Hiroko Raticliffe will be the administrative assistant.

All members of the panel are recognised experts in their respective disciplines and have specialist knowledge.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

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It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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