KLANG: A security expert has cautioned that the theft of equipment, which contained canisters of radioactive material from an oil and gas exploration company here, could be more than what meets the eye.
Counterterrorism specialist Andrin Raj said yesterday the radioactive material — Iridium-192 — was highly sought after by terror groups such as Islamic State, which use it to make dirty bombs.
He said the Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives (CBRNe) threat was new in Southeast Asia.
“For some years, there was only talk of the threat in Southeast Asia.
“This (CBRNe) threat is (now) the the region’s new threat.
“The Iridium-192 found in Klang is a worrying sign that Malaysia is becoming a major transit point and base for religious and violent extremists.
“This discovery by the authorities is a wake-up call for Malaysia as Iridium-192 is easily found here and not in other Asean countries,” he told the New Straits Times.
Residents of Seri Era Apartment, where materials containing Iridium-192 were found on Saturday, have been advised to seek medical attention.
Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) Radiation Regulatory Division director Hasmadi Hassan said residents should contact the board so that blood tests could be run on them.
“We want to make sure residents are safe and not in danger.
“If anyone had been exposed (to radiation), it could cause health problems.
“Also, I would like to inform them (residents) that if any of them is experiencing nausea or dizziness, he or she should immediately call our centre at 03-8922 5888.
“We will bring them to our centre in Bangi and run tests,” he said at the Klang Selatan police headquarters yesterday.
The scare came after two stolen projectors were found dismantled in the area.
AELB is concerned that radioactive material inside the projectors could have leaked out.
Hasmadi, who is also AELB’s Nuclear Emergency Team chairman, said the board would conduct investigations into the standard operating procedure (SOP) of the oil and gas exploration company from which the projectors were stolen.
He said the company had been operating for 10 years and this was the first time such an incident had occurred.
“We want to look into the company’s SOP and see if there was any negligence on the part of its employees. Even though we have found the projectors with the help of the police, we still need to take the matter seriously.”
Klang Selatan police chief Assistant Commissioner Alzafny Ahmad advised Seri Era Apartment residents to contact the board to have blood tests carried out.
He said police were not sure when and where the projectors, containing Iridium-192, were dismantled.
Alzafny said he had instructed his men, who had been involved in the investigation, to have blood tests run on them.
He said police had arrested eight people in connection with the theft of the projectors.
Alzafny said the suspects, aged between 26 and 37, were detained on Friday and Saturday.
He said four of them were employees of the oil and gas exploration company from which the projectors were stolen, while the others were arrested in Jalan Samarinda and Seri Era Apartment.
“If sold, the projectors could fetch about RM80,000.”
Alzafny said the suspects used the company’s van to transport the projectors, returning it an hour later.
On Saturday, police and AELB raided Seri Era Apartment and a scrap metal yard, where they found canisters containing Iridium-192.
It was learnt that the authorities used a special detector brought in by AELB to find the radioactive material.