‘Missing radioactive material can easily be turned into bomb’

Selangor CID chief Fadzil Ahmat says two technicians were detained but there is no evidence to link them to the missing radioactive material. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: The missing 25kg of radioactive material could easily be turned into a bomb, a source from the Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) said.

“All it needs is other substances to make a major explosive device. We are hoping it will not fall into the wrong hands,” the source told FMT.

He warned that exposure to the substance could cause nausea, vomiting, followed by diarrhoea, headaches and fever.

After the first round of symptoms, there may be a brief period with no apparent illness, but this may be followed within weeks by more serious symptoms.

At higher levels of radiation exposure, all of these symptoms may be immediately apparent, along with widespread – and potentially fatal – damage to internal organs.

Long-term effects include cancer, the source said.

Due to that, he said AELB was working closely with the police to determine the whereabouts of the apparatus. The public have been urged to come forward if they have information on the matter.

Selangor state police have confirmed the theft of a 23kg Radioactive Dispersal Device (RDD) worth RM75,000.

Selangor CID chief Fadzil Ahmat said two technicians from the company where the apparatus went missing were arrested on Aug 11.

“They were under remand for a week but were released as no evidence was found linking them to the case,” he told FMT.

Meanwhile, Bernama quoted the Inspector-General of Police Mohamad Fuzi Harun as saying this was not the first time such a device had gone missing as the first case was reported last year.

“However, nobody has come forward with information on it,” he said after an event here.

The New Straits Times (NST) reported today that the AELB and the police were looking into the disappearance of the RDD after it went missing while it was being transported from Seremban, Negri Sembilan, to Shah Alam, Selangor.

The RDD is a non-nuclear industrial radiography equipment. It contains the radioactive isotope Iridium-192 that emits beta and gamma radiation.

The paper cited metallurgy expert Abd Nassir Ibrahim, the managing director of Madani NDT Training Centre, as saying the equipment was used in various engineering projects, including the building and maintenance of power plants, chemical and petrochemical plants, and automobile factories.

Radiation is energy that travels in the form of waves or high-speed particles.

It occurs naturally in sunlight. Man-made radiation is used in X-rays, nuclear weapons, nuclear power plants and for cancer treatment.