Report: Radioactive device ‘missing’ since August 10, authorities fear use as ‘dirty bomb’

Sharina Ahmad
The Atomic Energy Licensing Board is appealing for those who find the device to report their discovery to them or the police and warned against opening the case. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 20 — Police and the Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) are desperately searching for a 23kg Radioactive Dispersal Device (RDD) worth RM75,000 that was reported missing since August 10.

The New Straits Times (NST) reported today that the RDD is a non-nuclear industrial radiography equipment, but which contains the radioactive isotope Iridium-192 that emits beta and gamma radiation. It has an estimate shelf life of 73 days once taken out of its lead-shielded casing.

The paper cited metallurgy expert Abd Nassir Ibrahim the managing director of Madani NDT Training Centre saying the equipment is used in various engineering projects, including the building and maintenance of power plants, chemical and petrochemical plants, and automobiles factories, but in the hands of terrorists, can be turned into a “dirty bomb”.

According to Nassir, who is also president of the Malaysian Society for Non-destructive Testing, the gamma rays emitted by the RDD has “extremely high-energies” and exposure to it can destroy human cells, resulting in radiation burns, development of cancer and cataract.

The NST reported that two technicians of a company had claimed to have lost the RDD while transporting it non-stop from Seremban in Negri Sembilan to their office in Shah Alam, Selangor on August 10.

According to their statements, they noticed the device was missing at 3am upon arrival at their office and feared it had fallen out of their Nissan Navara pick-up truck as the tailgate was lowered.

They filed a police report after tracing back their journey and failed to find it.

The duo were arrested for theft after investigators found their testimony suspicious, but were released last Friday as there was no evidence to support their basis.

The AELB is appealing for those who find it to report their discovery to them or the police and warned against opening the case.  

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