Theft, loss of radioactive substances more common than exposure cases: Nuclear Agency

11 Nov 2019 / 18:36 H.

BANGI: Incidents relating to the loss and theft of radioactive materials occur more frequently in Malaysia than those involving emergencies and radiation safety, according to Malaysian Nuclear Agency (ANM) deputy director Dr Mohd Abd Wahab Yusof.

He said based on records, from the 1990s to date, there have been 17 cases of intrusion, loss or theft relating to radioactive material, as a result of poor security controls, with most incidents occurring during transportation.

In this regard, Mohd Abd Wahab said security should be a priority for licensees and industries involved with radioactive materials to prevent incidents involving the exploitation of radioactive material for criminal purposes.

“Without strict supervision, the risk of occurrence of activities such as theft, sabotage, unauthorised access, illegal transfers or other malicious acts involving nuclear or radioactive material or related facilities will be more difficult to control,“ he said.

Speaking to reporters after opening the 2019 Nuclear Security Conference themed “Nuclear Security: What Matters?” here today, he said nuclear security not only involved the control of nuclear power plants and nuclear weapons, but also all activities involving the use of radioactive materials.

He said although there was no nuclear plant in Malaysia, the use of radioactive materials was widespread, especially in the industrial and medical sectors, where according to the records of the Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB), more than 1,300 companies were involved in the use of licensed radioactive materials.

Mohd Abd Wahab said security at the nuclear research reactor in Dengkil was also being enhanced with the installation of an anti-climb fence that would be completed by next year, while security control in the area was also in accordance with strict local and international standards.

Meanwhile, Bukit Aman Strategic Resources and Technology Department (StarRT) principal assistant director (Arms) Datuk Muhammad Koey Abdullah said the police were concerned about the abuse of radioactive material with regard to the 17 reported cases.

“We will monitor in terms of any abuse, and also refer to the ANM and AELB. We are concerned that some people may use radioactive material to make ‘dirty bombs’ (conventional bombs that contain radioactive material),“ he said.

The inaugural nuclear security conference here was held to understand the roles and responsibilities of various parties in strengthening the implementation of nuclear security regulations in Malaysia, to ensure public safety at local and regional levels. — Bernama

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