Atomic Energy Licensing Act to be amended to boost investments


Hands on experience: Chang (in batik shirt) using a Teleprobe tool at the Nuclear Reaction Simulation Centre in Dengkil. — KK SHAM/The Star

DENGKIL: The Atomic Energy Licensing Act 1984 (or Act 304) will be amended to attract more high-tech investors in Malaysia that need to utilise ionising radiation (including x-rays) in their industrial processes.

To make this happen, the government intends to extend the validity period for licences beyond the current three years, says Chang Lih Kang.

The Science, Technology and Innovation minister said lawmakers will ensure the amendments to Act 304 are expedited and gazetted by the beginning of next year.

The current largest users of radiation-related processes are from the medical sector, with 5,164 licensees, followed by the industrial sector, with 1,810 companies.

“The ministry and the Atomic Energy Department (Atom Malaysia) have taken the initiative to grant licence approval for a maximum of three years to all applicants who meet the criteria set, effective June 2024. Previously, licences were offered for one, two or three years.

“We expect this initiative to boost the development of the nuclear industry and increase investment while providing guaranteed continuous employment and generating quicker revenue for the country,” he said during his speech at the official opening of Atom Malaysia’s Nuclear Reaction Simulation Centre at its headquarters here yesterday.The simulation centre is part of moves by Atom Malaysia to ensure that the safety, security and regulatory aspects of radiation-related activities remain a priority to protect worker and public health, along with the environment.

Chang said all the current licensees handle radioactive material, especially in the medical field, but there were also those from the manufacturing sector utilising radiation.

For example, companies need radiation sources that produce x-rays or gamma rays to examine the internal structure of manufactured components to check for flaws or defects, a process known as non-destructive testing.

”We have enough officers and experts to handle this part, so if there is an application, we will send in our expert teams to look at it, and everything is taken into consideration, including prior studies,” he said.

On the simulation centre, Chang said it was an integral tool that can be benefited by all relevant stakeholders, such as the police or Fire and Rescue Department (Bomba), to improve their level of preparedness in facing issues with radioactive and atomic materials.

“In terms of preparedness, we are fully ready. Prior to this, we also had training and simulations.

“But with all the new simulation centre equipment, we can do better, and I think we are very prepared,” he said, adding that the simulation centre will strengthen the competence of Atom Malaysia’s Nuclear Response Team, along with that of frontline agencies such as the police, Bomba, Customs Department, and other related agencies.

The centre, which was established under the National Security Council’s Directive 20, will also serve as a training venue for radiation protection officers in the private and government sectors, as well as trainees from within and outside the country.

The centre began construction in November 2022 and was completed in October 2023 at a cost of RM960,000.

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atom , Chang Lih Kang

   

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