KLANG: Greedy company workers stole two industrial radiography projectors, dismantled the lead covers for sale and dumped the radioactive innards of the equipment in a rubbish bin.
Not realising that they had exposed themselves to deadly radiation, the thieves then sold the covers to a scrap dealer.
Acting on a report made by the company, police and officers from the Atomic Energy Licensing Board conducted checks, which led to the recovery of the radioactive material and the arrest of eight men involved in the theft and sale of the radiography projectors.
The projectors are generally used in quality control work to inspect the welding of pipes in the oil and gas industry.
South Klang OCPD Asst Comm Alzafny Ahmad said Monday the equipment was stolen from a vehicle belonging to a company which carries out inspection services.
The outer casing of the projectors is made of lead and were sold to a used-goods dealer while the inner casings - containing depleted uranium and radioactive iridium-192 rods - were dumped in a garbage bin at the Seri Era Apartments in Desa Latania, Shah Alam.
The outer casings were discovered at a scrap yard in Padang Jawa, here, at about 4pm on Sunday during checks by police and atomic agency officers.
The checks are part of the agency's standard operating procedure during cases of theft of radioactive material.
Those detained, aged between 26 and 37, were the company workers and the owner of the scrap yard, ACP Alzafny said.
He said police believe the theft, which occurred on Feb 9, was merely for money and not for any other purpose.
Meanwhile, the board's director of the radioactive regulatory division Hasmadi Hassan said the radioactive rods can pose a danger because they were exposed when dumped in the garbage bin.
He urged residents in the area who had passed by the bin to contact the board at 03-8922-5888 or 1-800-887-999 if they are concerned about their health.
Blood samples will be taken from the police personnel and officers involved in retrieving the stolen items.