Kuala Lumpur: Malaysian police said on Tuesday the disappearance of an industrial item containing radioactive material more than a week ago appeared to have no link to terrorism.
Two technicians reported the device missing while they were transporting it on August 10 from the southern Negeri Sembilan state to their company’s office in Shah Alam outside Kuala Lumpur, police said in a statement.
Police detained the two workers for a week to assist in the investigation but released them as no evidence linked them to the device’s disappearance. Local reports have said the two claimed they didn’t stop during the trip and feared the device fell off the truck.
They said they are working with the Atomic Energy Licensing Board to find the device and track the culprits. Police didn’t say what they believe was the reason for the device’s disappearance except to rule out terrorism.
Police said the 23 kilogram device used in industrial radiography contains 50 curies of radioactive iridium and can cause health problems depending on the level of exposure.
Local media said the device was reportedly used to detect cracks in metals in the energy, power and transportation sectors. Authorities say the radioactive substance inside the radiography device could spread dangerous contamination if dismantled improperly.
There are also fears it could be used as part of a weapon — a so-called dirty bomb — if it fell into the wrong hands.
Authorities have confirmed the device is missing but have insisted that “everything is under control”.
The missing object is used in industrial radiography — it belonged to a firm that does tests, calibrations and inspections for oil and gas companies and other heavy industry firms.
It contains the radioactive isotope iridium-192 which can cause radiation exposure or be used as a weapon if combined with a conventional explosive device.
— With agency inputs