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Theft of radioactive materials

Radioactive material is still missing in Malaysia: Cause for concern?, Bulletin of the Atomic ScientistsBy Francisco ParadaMargarita Kalinina-PohlMiles A. Pomper, September 14, 2018 A radioactive source was reported missing on August 10 in Malaysia. Since then, Malaysian authorities have expressed growing concern about the possible use of this material in a terrorist attack. The reality is that this material could be used to build a radiological dispersal device (RDD), commonly known as a “dirty bomb,” and it can be found virtually in any country in the world……..

According to records from the Malaysian Atomic Energy Licensing Board, there have been more than 16 cases involving the theft or loss of radioactive material since the 1990s, with the last incident reported in February 2017. Reports of the present incident in Malaysia indicate that the source “was being transported 30 miles from the town of Seremban to Shah Alam on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, the capital.” The missing device is an industrial radiography unit with an iridium 192 isotope used for non-destructive testing. Without knowing the specific activity (i.e., the concentration of radioactivity) of the isotope, one cannot be sure of its precise potential harm, but commonly, this type of device is considered to be, in plain language, very dangerous. ……..

The incident caused concerns at the highest levels of the government, and it was discussed in the National Security Council of Malaysia. Datuk Ayub Khan Mydin Pitchay, the Special Branch’s Counter-Terrorism Division assistant principal director, reported that after an investigation, the case was not linked to terrorism, and now is a criminal investigation. However, the possibility of malicious intent and insider threat cannot be ruled out, and the Malaysian government in late August set up a special force of the Atomic Energy Licensing Board and local police to continue investigating the incident.

Regional concerns in Southeast Asia. The missing radioactive device in Malaysia also raises concerns on the regional level, for a variety of reasons. First, Malaysia is in a strategic location for shipping routes as it shares a border with Singapore—one of the world’s busiest ports. With a high volume of cross-border transfer of goods into and out of Singapore, a perpetrator could smuggle a radioactive source to a country with porous borders. Fortunately, Singapore has a robust radiation portal monitor (RPM) infrastructure to prevent the smuggling of radioactive material. Complementing their RPMs, national authorities decided to ramp up security at their borders checkpoints as well. ……..

Global problem. One of the common motivations behind the theft of radiation sources is the hope of profits; missing or stolen radioactive sources can become a safety concern if they end up in scrap metal yards or are intentionally sold as scrap metal……… https://thebulletin.org/2018/09/radioactive-material-is-still-missing-in-malaysia-cause-for-concern/?utm_source=Bulletin%20Newsletter&utm_medium=iContact%20Email&utm_campaign=September21

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September 21, 2018 - Posted by | Malaysia, secrets,lies and civil liberties

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