Lynas is absolutely confident that by-products of the LAMP will be recycled and reused in commercial applications, and will not require long-term storage. Acid cracking and leaching of the rare earths concentrate at the LAMP will produce three solid res idues, or Synthetic Mineral Products, each of which has commercial application. One of the plant residues from the water leach process contains very low levels of naturally occurring radioactive material (NORM). When mixed with hydrated lime and other additives it is transformed into Iron PhysphoGypsum and has commercial application as a component in synthetic road base. Commodities containing NORM are also regularly used as construction materials and in building products such as plasterboard. Lynas stores and handles materials safely on site. This has been verified by independent, expert review. Lynas places hydrated residues in a safe, reliably engineered, elevated Residue Storage Facility that is designed so that there is no possibility of any leakage of material into the environment. This facility is monitored and regulated by both Lynas and the Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) to ensure full compliance within the approved conditions. This includes continuous air and water monitoring. Lynas is subject to strict conditions by the AELB. One of these conditions refers to the end of life of the plant – Lynas must obtain a decommissioning licence, which includes the permanent, safe storage of any of the remaining residues that cannot be recycled or reused. Lynas has agreed to place funds with the Malaysian government to ensure safe management of any remaining residues as required by the AELB. Lynas is absolutely confident that by-products of the LAMP will be recycled and re-used in commercial applications, and will not require long-term storage.
(i) Lynas plans to dilute the radioactive waste, declassify it from being labeled as radioactive and dispose of it as commercial items. Irresponsible and unethical behavior, YES, but yet gets a green light from the Malaysian authorities. Diluting does not make the radiation ‘go away’, and if the diluting liquid evaporates, you will again have concentrated radioactive material very harmful to people. The uranium and thorium will not evaporate with time. Nowadays, the internationally accepted criteria for hazardous and radioactive waste disposal are based on the total amounts of contaminants of hazardous materials and not the concentrations of the contaminants alone. Even though, diluting the WLP will make it non radioactive by classification, but the total amounts of radioactive materials in the waste will still remain the same! (Based on the Law of the Conservation of Mass) (ii)Final disposal of high-level waste is delayed for 40-50 years to allow its radioactivity to decay, after which less than one thousandth of its initial radioactivity remains, and it is much easier to handle. Hence canisters of vitrified waste, or used fuel assemblies, are stored under water in special ponds, or in dry concrete structures or casks, for at least this length of time. Another factor in managing wastes is the time that they are likely to remain hazardous. This depends on the kinds of radioactive isotopes in them, and particularly the half-lives characteristic of each of those isotopes. (The half-life is the time it takes for a given radioactive isotope to lose half of its radioactivity. After four half lives the level of radioactivity is 1/16th of the original and after eight half lives 1/256th, and so on.) The various radioactive isotopes have half-lives ranging from fractions of a second to minutes, hours or days, through to billions of years. Radioactivity decreases with time as these isotopes decay into stable, non-radioactive ones. (iii) ‘China is now working very hard on using thorium for energy generation’. Alternatively, the gypsum...
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