Monday, May 23

Free scanning for radioactive contamination

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KUALA LUMPUR: The Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) is prepared to scan individuals for radioactive contamination free of charge although the situation in Malaysia does not warrant such monitoring, Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Dr Maximus Ongkili said yesterday.

He said the AELB has opened a radioactive contamination detection service for individuals from 8am to 6pm daily at its headquarters at Batu 24, Jalan Dengkil, Selangor, beginning yesterday.

“For the moment, it is not necessary for individuals to subject themselves to radioactive contamination monitoring because the situation in Malaysia is normal and under control.

“However, if the public wants to undergo individual monitoring, the AELB is prepared to provide the service free of charge,” he said in a statement on the ministry’s www.mosti.gov.my website.

Fear of radioactive contamination has risen following heightened concern over a possible nuclear meltdown in Japan where a nuclear power plant was damaged in a 9.0-magnitude earthquake and a tsunami which the tremblor triggered on March 11.

Ongkili said radiation portal monitors (RPMs) installed at the KL International Airport in 2009 did not indicate any radioactive contamination.

Officers of the AELB and the Malaysian Nuclear Agency were at airports which handled passengers from Japan and conducted individual monitoring when the reading exceeded the permissible 0.5 microsievert, he said.

He also said that airline passengers who wished to undergo further radioactive contamination monitoring could approach the officers on duty at the KLIA and the Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT).

“The ministry would once again like to advise Malaysians not to be overly concerned and not to believe rumours,” he said.

The public can address enquiries to the AELB Radiology Information Centre at 03-8922 5888 or 019-280 7869 or by sending an email to MNR-Customer@aelb.gov.my.

Speaking to reporters in Sandakan, Sabah, Ongkili said the government was closely monitoring the situation and reminded the public not to listen to rumours about radioactive contamination.

“There is no radioactive pollution detected in our country so far,” he told reporters after opening an artificial reefs deployment programme.

He said the Environmental Radiology Monitoring System in six locations nationwide showed normal readings.

The Health Ministry had also taken samples of imported food and all of them tested negative for radiation, said Ongkili.

“The people should take note of the latest information on the matter, which will be released by the government through the National Security Council, of which I am the spokesman,” he said. — Bernama