KUANTAN: It is unlikely that any radioactivity from bauxite mining here exceeded permissible levels, said Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Wilfred Madius Tangau.
He said although he would not preempt the results of the Atomic Energy Licensing Board’s (AELB) ongoing analysis of samples from sites affected by bauxite mining, it did not seem that the reported radiation was above background levels.
“Radioactivity occurs everywhere. What is being analysed by AELB is whether the radioactivity will be a risk.
“On the radioactivity aspect in bauxite mining here, it is not worrying,” he said after visiting the sites yesterday.
Asked about his terms of reference, Tangau said this was based on early findings which would have to be further affirmed.
His visit came after news reports that unregulated bauxite mining had released radioactive material into the environment.
AELB director-general Hamrah Mohd Ali said the Uranium-238 radionuclide content of 37.67 Bq/kg as reported in a daily was below the average background radiation level of 66 Bq/kg in Malaysia as stated by the United Nations Scientific Committee on The Effects of Atomic Radiation in 2000.
Tangau said only two laboratories in Malaysia – the Malaysian Nuclear Agency and Asia Lab – were capable of testing such materials.
AELB’s test results, he added, would only be known in about a month because the board would need to wait for the samples to stabilise.
“There is public confusion on the time needed to test the samples for radioactivity. They have to understand that it cannot be analysed immediately,” he said.
It did not seem necessary, said Tangau, to call for a suspension of mining activities pending the results.