|Leven Woon (MKini)
6:59PM Mar 29, 2012
The Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) has dodged questions on the reliability of its Environmental Radiology Monitoring System (ERMS) data, despite discrepancies spotted by journalists.
The data was part of regulations governing AELB operations to monitor background environment radiation, and to trace the cause of any sudden rise in radiation , if any.
During the board’s weekly press conference in Dengkil today, a journalist had asked why AELB’s monitoring station in Lahad, Perak, which recorded a consistent daily reading of 0.04 microserviet per hour (μSv/h) in February, would register an average radiology of 0.2μSv/h by the end of the month.
Similarly, daily readings at the Senai monitoring station ranged between 0.03 and 0.05 uSv/h in February, but the average for the month showed 0.18μSv/h.
“So is the data reliable?” asked the journalist.
AELB director-general ‘s special advisor Noor Hasnah Khairullah (left) responded with a puzzling explanation that the Lahad station has only functioned for less than a year.
“We will check that data. The Lahad’s average (reading) should be 0.04μSv/h.
‘Too early to check data’
“About the reliability, (the Lahad station) only started operation in July last year. It is not even a year now. So in this one year’s period, we will always be checking the data,” she said.
Seven monitor stations have been placed around the country with monthly reports on radiation readings made available on the AELB website.
Based on the current AELB’s benchmark, 0.5μSv/h is considered as the “emergency” level of radiation which will prompt AELB to take immediate responsive measures.
The Kuantan station, located near the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (Lamp), recorded 0.1μSv/h in February, making it the third highest after Lahad and Senai.
When asked again the cause behind Lahad’s sudden drop in radiation, from a consistent 0.21μSv/h reading between May and September last year, to 0.08μSv/h on November, Noor Hasnah explained that it is normal.
“When we count the background radiation, there is always fluctuation. It is just a normal geological movement of the thing in water and weather,” she said.
However, when told that the drop should not be considered fluctuation, she said she will look into the matter.
“We will monitor it for the next few months. If we also notice the same thing as well, we will investigate,” she said.
When questioned on Lynas and related matters, Noor Hasnah, who chaired the weekly conference on behalf of director general Raja Abdul Aziz Raja Abdul Rahman who is on outstation duty, refused comment.
On whether the formation of the parliamentary select committee (PSC) on Lynas last week would affect the decision to issue a temporary operation license (TOL) to Lynas, she was tight-lipped.
“The PSC is headed by Higher Education Minister Khaled Nordin, there is another set of terms of reference. You should direct that question to the PSC,” she said.
Asked whether AELB has issued a written statement to the Save Malaysia Stop Lynas group regarding the latter’s legal action with the hearing set for April 10 , she again refused to comment.
On the Penang solar panel plant in Batu Kawan, Noor Hasnah said the board will issue a press statement through Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation soon.
The plant had sparked debate between the Penang government and its detractors on the need for an AELB license for its operations because of concerns over radiation.