THE NON-STANDARD LIGHTNING PROTECTION SYSTEMS

:
A MAJOR TECHNICAL SCAM AND ITS IMPACT ON PUBLIC SAFETY AND THE NATIONAL ECONOMY

Prepared & submitted by Z. A. Hartono & Robiah Ibrahim

Cover picture
This picture shows how serious a direct lightning strike can have on a building. It was taken on the rooftop of the Bank Pembangunan Malaysia Berhad building in 1991 and shows the extensive damage caused by a single lightning strike on one corner of the roof. The building had just been installed with a new non-standard lightning protection system to replace another non-standard lightning protection system which had failed to protect the building. This damage shows that both non-standard lightning protection systems had failed to protect the building from direct lightning strikes!

ii

Preface
This month marks the 10th anniversary of our initial expose1 that highlighted the presence of a technical scam that had and still affects all levels of Malaysian society. Since then several more advisories had been published in the mass media.

The media report that initially highlighted the scam ten years ago this month.

The scam involves the sale of lightning protection systems that did not comply with the local and international safety codes/standards; hence they are referred to as the non-standard (or unconventional) lightning protection systems. The use of these non-standard systems had proven to be hazardous to the public through research conducted locally and in other countries. Our motivation for highlighting this scam has been to ensure that the public is safe from the hazardous effects of lightning. We are qualified2 to make this report since we have the expertise to do so. Our work had already been internationally recognised for many years and used by western authorities to mitigate the scam in their countries; hence it should do the same here as well if it is supported the Malaysian authorities.
1

We authored the letter “Dubious devices that find their way here”, The Star, 23rd June 1993. See Appendix 1 for the full text of the above letter. 2 The growing numbers of scientific papers that supported our research work, written by lightning experts and scientists from around the world since 1995, are indisputable proof of our authority in this field. See Appendix 2 for the list of papers.

iii

The reason why this scam is virtually unknown in Malaysia is because of its highly technical nature and the fact that it could be understood by a small number of technical professionals in responsible public institutions. However, it seemed that these professionals have no intention of exposing this scam since they have suppressed all adverse information about it and even supported it since 1995. For the past several years, we have taken this matter up with the relevant ministries and agencies but none of them took our report seriously. Some of them probably referred our reports to the very professionals who had been supporting the scam. The result is all too obvious. Hence we have taken it unto ourselves to make this report public in order that the responsible ministries, agencies and concerned NGOs can take action to put a stop to it for the benefit of the country and safety of the public. Based on the experiences of the western nations, the scientists can only safeguard the nation if they are supported by the government. We welcome any organisation to conduct an objective enquiry into this matter if they have the knowledge and expertise to do so, and we are willing to assist them in this effort if our assistance is required. Thank you.

Hartono b Zainal Abidin3, BSc Principal Author Mail: 457 Jalan B11, Taman Melawati, 53100 Kuala Lumpur H/P: 012-3059971 Tel: 03-41076899 Fax: 03-41085640 E-mail: hartono@pc.jaring.my

3

For readers’ information, Hartono is a Malaysian citizen (and not an alien as many had wrongly suspected). He studied electrical and electronic engineering at a British university on a Public Services Department scholarship in the 1970s and had faithfully served in the Malaysian government and the corporate sector. He now runs his own firm that conducts fundamental research on lightning protection and provides detailed forensic analysis for lightning related problems. His research work is highly respected and applied in many western countries.

iv

CONTENTS
Glossary ..........................................................................................................vii Executive Summary.........................................................................................1 Section 1: Introduction....................................................................................3 1.1 Nature of the scam ...................................................................................3 1.2 Lightning protection standards ................................................................3 1.3 Standard Lightning Protection System ....................................................4 1.4 Non-standard Lightning Protection System.............................................5 1.5 Role of scientific institutions in ensuring public safety...........................6 1.6 Consequence of using the non-standard LPS...........................................7 Section 2: The lightning attracting systems...................................................9 2.1 Radioactive air terminals .......................................................................10 2.2 Early Streamer Emission (ESE) air terminals........................................11 Section 3: The lightning elimination systems ..............................................14 3.1 The Dissipative Array System (DAS)....................................................14 3.2 Other lightning elimination air terminals...............................................16 3.3 Semiconductor Lightning Eliminator (SLE)..........................................16 Section 4: The scientific controversy surrounding the ESE air terminal.18 4.1 How the controversy started ..................................................................18 4.2 The response of standards organisations to the controversy..................18 4.2.1 International Electro-technical Commission (1995).......................18 4.2.2 National Fire Protection Association (1995) ..................................20 4.2.3 National Fire Protection Association (2000) ..................................21 4.2.4 French “product standard” (2001) ..................................................23 4.2.5 Draft Australian/New Zealand Standard (2002) .............................25 4.3 Selected responses from foreign scientific institutions..........................27 4.3.1 International Conference on Lightning Protection (ICLP) .............27 4.3.2 National University of Singapore (NUS)........................................27 4.3.2 University of Strathclyde (United Kingdom) .................................28 Section 5: Local public institutions that supported the scam ....................29 5.1 UTM’s role in promoting the scam........................................................29 5.1.1 UTM academics’ prior knowledge of the ESE failures ..................29 5.1.2 IVAT workshop promoting the ESE air terminal ...........................32 5.1.3 UTM book promoting the DAS and ESE air terminals ..................32 5.1.4 UTM academics promoted the ESE in standards committee..........33 5.1.5 UTM academic appointed as adviser to a local ESE vendor ..........34 5.1.6 UTM’s influence on their students .................................................34 5.1.7 UTM’s influence on the general populace......................................34 5.1.8 Clear evidence of ESE failures within the UTM Skudai campus...35 5.2 SIRIM’s role in promoting the scam .....................................................36 5.2.1 SIRIM’s awareness of the ESE failures and rejection ....................36 5.2.2 SIRIM’s support for the ESE systems ............................................37 5.2.3 Use of the ESE air terminals by SIRIM..........................................38 Section 6: The Prime Minister’s Department – A Case Study ..................41 6.1 Estimation of risks .................................................................................41

v

6.2 The Prime Minister’s Department (PMD) building...............................41 6.3 Lightning strikes to the Prime Minister’s Department building ............42 Section 7: Recommendations to stop the scam............................................44 7.1 Ministry of Home Affairs (MOHA) ......................................................44 7.2 Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment (MOSTE) .............44 7.2.1 SIRIM .............................................................................................45 7.2.2 Department of Standards Malaysia (DSM).....................................46 7.2.3 Malaysian Institute of Nuclear Technology (MINT)......................46 7.2.4 Malaysian Meteorological Services (MMS)...................................46 7.3 Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs (MDTCA) ............46 7.4 Ministry of Housing and Local Government (MHLG)..........................47 7.4.1 Department of Fire and Rescue Services (DFRS) ..........................47 7.5 Ministry of Education (MOE)................................................................47 7.5.1 UTM................................................................................................48 7.6 Ministry of Transport (MOT) ................................................................49 7.7 Ministry of Works..................................................................................49 7.7.1 Public Works Department (PWD) ..................................................50 7.8 Ministry of Defense (MINDEF) ............................................................50 7.9 Board of Engineers Malaysia (BEM) ....................................................50 7.10 Institution of Engineers Malaysia (IEM) .............................................50 7.11 Association of Consulting Engineers Malaysia (ACEM)....................50 7.12 Persatuan Arkitek Malaysia (PAM).....................................................51 7.13 Federation of Malaysia Consumers Association (FOMCA)................51 7.14 Other ministries, public agencies and NGOs.......................................51 Section 8: Conclusion.....................................................................................52 Appendix 1: “Dubious devices that find their way here”...........................55 Appendix 2: Worldwide scientific support for our research work. ..........57 Appendix 3: Deceptive sales tactics used by the vendors ...........................59 Appendix 4: Recent example of a lightning strike to a school ...................68 Appendix 5: The UTM book “Kilat dan Perlindungan”.............................72 Appendix 6: The report to SIRIM and IEM dated 14 July 2000. .............75

vi

Glossary
ACEM AGU AS/NZS BEM BSI CIGRE DFRS DSM JBEG FOMCA ICLP IEC IEM INERIS IVAT MDTCA MHLG MINDEF MINT MMS MOE MOHA MOSTE NIST NFPA PAM PDRM PMD SIRIM UTM Association of Consulting Engineers Malaysia American Geophysical Union (USA) Australian Standard/New Zealand Standard Board of Engineers Malaysia British Standards Institute International Conference on High Voltage Electric Systems Department of Fire and Rescue Services Department of Standards Malaysia Jabatan Bekalan Electrik dan Gas (Electricity and Gas Supply Department) Federation of Malaysia Consumers Association International Conference on Lightning Protection International Electro-technical Commission Institution of Engineers Malaysia Institut National de L’Environnement Industriel et des Risques (France) Institut Voltan dan Arus Tinggi (Institute of High Voltage & Current) Ministry of Dommestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry of Housing and Local Government Ministry of Defence Malaysian Institute of Nuclear Technology Malaysian Meteorological Services Ministry of Education Ministry of Home Affairs Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment National Institute of Standards and Technology (USA) National Fire Protection Association Inc. (USA) Persatuan Arkitek Malaysia (Malaysian Assoc. of Architects) Polis Di Raja Malaysia (Royal Malaysian Police) Prime Minister’s Department Standards and Industrial Research Institute of Malaysia Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (University of Technology Malaysia)

vii

Executive Summary
This report exposes a major technical scam involving the sale of the non-standard lightning protection systems (LPS). This scam had been in existence since the 1970s and was initially perpetuated by a small number of vendors. Since then, the variety of non-standard LPS and the number of vendors who market them has grown. Unlike other scams that were perpetuated by vendors without the support of professionals, this particular scam is unique since it has been assisted by highly qualified technical professionals from two key public institutions. While other scams mainly resulted in the loss of money without any detrimental effects to life and property, this scam can and have resulted in the loss of properties and is also life threatening (see Appendix 4). Those who had purchased the non-standard LPS with the thought that they will be safe from direct lightning strikes had actually exposed their lives and their property to such risks. Hence this scam should be viewed with great concern by the government since it had already caused several losses of properties and has the potential to cause human casualties. Although the scam was initially perpetuated un-opposed due to the lack of local expertise to recognize them as such, it could have been stopped when a number of scientific studies that disproved these non-standard systems emerged about 15 years ago. Furthermore, many standards authorities around the world had begun to clamp down on the sale of these non-standard systems in order to ensure public safety. However, the scam took a turn for the worse about a decade ago when it gained support from some academics from the electrical engineering department of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM). These academics were later assisted by some technical staff from the standards development department of the Standards and Industrial research Institute of Malaysia (SIRIM). Due to this support, the sale of these non-standard LPS accelerated with more new products and new vendors entering the market. This situation deteriorated further in the late 1990s when many engineering graduates from UTM, whom we believed had been taught about the “merits” of the nonstandard LPS by the academics, had unwittingly recommended or included the non-standard LPS in their work. To add insult to injury, many consumers who had been initially duped into buying one type of the non-standard LPS (i.e. the radioactive air terminals) in the 1970s and early 1980s had been duped again into buying another new type of the non-standard system (i.e. the ESE air terminals) in the 1990s. The fact that some of these victims are government technical agencies shows how devious the scam is and how serious the matter had become.

1

The PDRM building on Jalan Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur, is one of the many victims of the scam that had been duped twice into purchasing the unconventional LPS. The picture above shows a French-made radioactive lightning rod (circled left) and a French-made ESE lightning rod (circled right). The failure of the radioactive rod to protect the building prompted the owner to purchase the ESE rod without knowing that both unconventional lightning rods are non-scientific, unproven and unapproved by the national and international standards.

In this report, the authors have highlighted the details concerning the scam in basic technical terms that had been written with the intelligent public in mind. Some of the documentary evidences related to the scam have been displayed in order that the relevant government agencies concerned can know the facts about this scam. Since our research work on this matter has been received with much scepticism by local professionals, we have instead provided the web links to some of the scientific reports that disproved the non-standard LPS so that the technical reader can obtain the information first hand. These reports have been written by western scientists who are acknowledged experts and world leaders in the field of lightning protection, some of whom have confidently referred to our research work in their publications.

2

Section 1: Introduction Lightning is a natural hazard that is more prevalent in the tropical region than elsewhere. In Malaysia, the number of thunderstorm days per year is between 190 and 330 according to information provided by the MMS in the early 1990s. This figure is very high when we compare it against the temperate countries like Britain where there is only between 10 and 20 thunderstorm days per year. Consequently, the damages and casualties as a result of direct lightning strikes are much higher in the tropics. Hence there is a vital need for protection against direct lightning strikes. This protection comes in the form of a lightning protection system (LPS). The LPS used in this country and around the world are basically divided into two types: • • Conventional or standard LPS i.e. that which comply with the technical standards/codes of practice Unconventional or non-standard LPS i.e. those that do not comply with the standards/codes

While the sale and use of the standard LPS is legal since it complies with the national and/or international standards and has been scientifically proven to provide safety to the users, the sale of the non-standard LPS did not. 1.1 Nature of the scam The technical scam arises because the vendors of the non-standard LPS had used half truths and outright deception4 to convince the potential customer that: • • The non-standard LPS had complied with a foreign “product standard” or had been “approved” by the local standards body. The use of the non-standard LPS system will provide safety for the user from direct lightning strikes.

Both these claims are totally false and will be demonstrated in the course of this report. 1.2 Lightning protection standards Like many electrical products in the market, a LPS is required to comply with the technical standards set by the IEC or by the respective national standards body (eg. SIRIM). When such a system complies with the recommendations set in the standard, it is known as a standard LPS.

4

See Appendix 3.

3

The lightning protection standard is usually developed by a technical committee comprising of academics, experts and industry practitioners who are knowledgeable in the field and are responsible for ensuring that the LPS to are scientifically validated and proven. Hence by complying with the standard, the consumer (eg. property owner) will be assured that the LPS installed will provide a meaningful and effective protection against the hazards of lightning. The existing lightning protection standards that are sometimes referred to in Malaysia are the IEC-61024 (International), BS6651 (United Kingdom), NFPA780 (USA), AS/NZS 1768 (Australia & New Zealand), and CP33 (Singapore). The first Malaysian lightning protection standard was the MS939 which was developed in 1984. It has since been replaced by the IEC standard, the IEC 61024, in 2001 and is now known as the MS-IEC 61024. 1.3 Standard Lightning Protection System The main component of the standard LPS is the conventional air terminal (a.k.a. Franklin rod) that was invented by Benjamin Franklin around 1750. After more than 250 years in existence, the Franklin rod is still in use throughout the world and it has recently been scientifically validated in two major studies conducted by the AGU5, a reputable international scientific organisation, and the Federal Interagency Lightning Protection User Group6, a technical body representing the United States government. The Franklin rod is a passive device i.e. it serves as a sacrificial device when the lightning strikes it rather than the building. In a typical building, several of these Franklin rods are installed at various locations on the roof that are likely to be struck by lightning. In this way, the lightning will have a high probability of striking the Franklin rods instead of the roof. Therefore, the building is considered protected from direct lightning strikes. The other components of the standard LPS are the down conductor and the earth terminal. The function of the down conductor is to channel the lightning current safely from the Franklin rod to the earth terminal. The function of the earth terminal is to safely dissipate the large lightning current into the ground effectively. A locally manufactured Franklin rod costs around RM30.00 each or less while an imported version may cost up to twice as much. The Franklin rod is not protected by a patent.
5

Report of the Committee on Atmospheric and Space Electricity (CASE) of the American Geophysical Union on the Scientific Basis for Traditional Lightning Protection Systems (http://CASE.AGU.org/NFPAreport.pdf) 6 “The Basis of Conventional Lightning Protection Technology, A review of the scientific development of conventional lightning protection technologies and standards”, Report of the Federal Interagency Lightning Protection User Group, June 2001. (http://www.lightningsafety.com/nlsi_lhm/conventionalLPT.pdf)

4

The typical conventional air terminal or Franklin rod (arrowed) which had been installed on the roof of a building. It can either have a sharp or blunt tip (preferred).

1.4 Non-standard Lightning Protection System In the 1970s, two types of unconventional air terminals had been commercially re-invented7 and introduced in the world market. They are the lightning prevention air terminal and the lightning attracting air terminal. Only one un-conventional air terminal is usually installed centrally on the roof of a building such as a bungalow or a high-rise apartment block. However, for buildings with a larger roof area, two or more un-conventional air terminals may be installed and they are normally spaced at some distance apart from one another. As their names imply, the lightning prevention air terminal is claimed to be able to prevent lightning from occurring and hence protect the building. On the other hand, the lightning attracting air terminal is claimed to be able to attract the lightning to it (and hence away from the building) in order to protect the building that it was installed on. In reality, the inventors of these un-conventional air terminals have never been able to provide any scientific basis for their invention. None of the “scientific papers” that they have published in the last 30 years have been independently verified by the scientific community. In addition to this, these inventors have never been able to provide any independently validated proof that their inventions work. However, they have
7

It is important to realize that the non-standard lightning air terminals had been invented by others earlier in the 20th century and had been disproved.

5

provided plenty of anecdotal (i.e. hearsay) evidence which had been obtained from “satisfied customers”. For these reasons, these inventors and manufacturers have not been able to get their un-conventional air terminals approved by the standards bodies. Hence the LPS that used these un-conventional air terminals have been classified as non-standard LPS by academics, scientists and the various standards bodies around the world. An unconventional air terminal may cost between RM4,000 to RM10,000 each and all of them seemed to be foreign made. Each unconventional air terminal is protected by a patent held by the respective foreign manufacturer. A more detailed description of these systems is given in sections 2 and 3. The non-standard LPS are usually easier and cheaper to install when compared to the conventional system but the protection that it provides is very limited i.e. equivalent to that of a single Franklin rod! Hence these vendors had to rely on some very creative marketing to sell their non-scientific and unproven products.

The above picture shows the damaged concrete roof corner (circled) caused by a direct lightning strike. This college building was installed with an unconventional air terminal (arrowed). Debris from such damages is a hazard to people and cars who may be loitering just below the corner at the time of the incident. More than 80% of buildings in Kuala Lumpur that have been installed with the un-conventional air terminals have at least one of this lightning strike damage features on them.

1.5 Role of scientific institutions in ensuring public safety

6

In the advanced western countries, academics, scientists and standards bodies have rejected the use of the non-standard LPS in order to ensure public safety. They have considered the sale of these non-standard systems as nothing but a technical scam whose victims are mostly gullible laypersons. However, in Malaysia, the situation is different since the early 1990s. The scam has been promoted by local non-standard LPS vendors with the support from some academics from UTM who claimed to be lightning experts. In addition to this, SIRIM has been silent on this issue although they have received vital information about the status of the non-standard LPS from their foreign counterparts in 1995. They have also been installing the non-standard LPS on buildings within their premises from the early 1990s to 2001. This has led to a proliferation of the non-standard LPS usage throughout the country. Thousands of these non-standard systems are now in use and their failure can be clearly seen on many of the buildings that used them. These failures, in the form of damaged concrete roof corners or tiled roofing, are inconspicuous at a glance but can be clearly seen if one were to look at the building carefully. Ironically, some of the buildings in UTM and SIRIM that were installed with the non-standard LPS had also been damaged by lightning in the same way but this did not stop them from installing new ones later on. 1.6 Consequence of using the non-standard LPS It is conservatively estimated that at least RM5.0 million is been lost annually by the nation through the purchase of these unconventional air terminals alone. If collateral damages as a result of direct strikes (such as building damages, fires and damaged electronic systems) are added into the equation, the figure could very well be ten times the above amount. In addition to this loss, human lives have been put at risk when the building installed with the non-standard LPS had been struck and damaged by lightning. A clear example of this risk is the school hostel in Subang Jaya8 that was struck and severely damaged by lightning in August 2002. Ironically, a warning to this effect had been published a year earlier. This school complex of about half a dozen buildings was installed with three lightning attracting air terminals that is claimed to have protection coverage of about 50 m each. The lightning strike and resultant fire shows a serious breach of safety had occurred which have a potential to cause injury and loss of life. Hundreds of school, college and university buildings throughout the country have been installed with these non-standard systems. They have also been installed on hundreds of other public buildings (such as hospitals, public apartments and government offices) and thousands of privately owned
8

See Appendix 4.

7

buildings such as homes, condominiums, hotels, shopping complexes, offices and factories. Since this country has up to 50 times more thunderstorm days than some western countries (such as the UK), it is important that the government realise that these non-standard LPS are a serious hazard to property and life. Hence, the sooner action is taken to stop this technical scam for good, the better it will be for public safety and the nation’s economy.

The advisory about the use of the non-standard LPS in new schools that appeared in August 2001, exactly a year before lightning damaged the Subang Jaya religious school.

8

Section 2: The lightning attracting systems The initial lightning attracting system came in the form of the radioactive air terminal in the 1970s and the later system came in the form of the Early Streamer Emission (ESE) air terminal in the late 1980s The principle behind the lightning attracting system lay in the existence of the upward streamer (a.k.a. upward leader). It is a naturally occurring low current electrical discharge phenomenon that exists when a lightning bolt is about to occur in the immediate vicinity. The lightning bolt starts initially with another phenomenon known as a downward leader, an current electrical discharge that moves down from the thundercloud. As the downward leader nears the surface of the earth, it increases the electric field in the immediate area below it and this cause the emergence of upward streamers from various objects on the earth’s surface (eg. lightning rods, trees, buildings, TV antennae, people etc.). One of these upward streamers will make a connection with the downward leader and a resultant high current lightning bolt will occur along the connected leader-streamer path.

Graphic shows (1) downward leader descending from cloud (left picture); (2) upward streamers emerging from lightning rods and tree (middle picture); and (3) leaderstreamer connection (right picture). Source: Uman, M. A. and Rakov, V. A., “A Critical Review of Non-conventional Approaches to Lightning Protection”, Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, December 2002. (http://plaza.ufl.edu/rakov/Uman&Rakov%20(2000).pdf)

In the lightning attracting system, their inventors claimed that their air terminals can generate these upward streamers earlier than other natural objects on the ground can (hence the term “early streamer” was introduced in the early 1990s). To generate the upward streamers, the inventors initially used radioactive materials but these were replaced with other methods when the use of the radioactive materials was banned by governments worldwide. These artificially generated upward streamers were claimed to be able to make a connection with the downward leader before any other naturally occurring streamers were able to do so, thus “attracting” the lightning flash to the air terminal instead of to the building. In this way, their inventors claimed that the lightning attracting air terminal protects the building on which it is installed.

9

2.1 Radioactive air terminals The various types of radioactive air terminals were constructed like the Franklin air terminal except that they had radioactive isotopes added to the terminal. The radioactive isotopes were claimed to be able to ionise the terminal which can assist in the launch of the streamers. In this method, the inventors claimed that the radioactive air terminal can attract lightning up to 100 m away, hence providing large protection coverage of about the same radial distance. Therefore, only one centrally located radioactive air terminal is required to protect a large building as compared to the dozens of Franklin rods in a standard LPS. However, these claims were disproved in 1985 when some academics from Australia and Singapore conducted a study of buildings that had been installed with the radioactive lightning rods. In that study9 that was conducted in Singapore several buildings were found to have been struck and damaged by lightning within the claimed protection radius of the radioactive air terminal. At the same time, the radioactive air terminals were also found to be hazardous since the radioactive material can disintegrate in the weather and can enter the human body through the food chain or through inhaling radioactive dust in the air. Consequently, the use of the radioactive air terminal was banned worldwide in 1987. However, they were immediately succeeded by a new generation lightning attracting air terminal, the ESE air terminal.

The ban on the radioactive lightning rods that took effect in June 1989.
9

Darveniza, M., Mackerras, D., and Liew, A. C., “Standard and Non-standard Lightning Protection Methods”, Journal of Electrical and Electronics Engineering, Australia, 1987.

10

In Malaysia, the radioactive air terminal was introduced in the 1970s and its import and sale was banned in 1989. However, the use of the radioactive air terminal was still allowed by the government if the user obtained a licence from the proper authority. Until today, hundreds of these radioactive air terminals can still be found on many buildings throughout the country and some of them have been replaced by the ESE air terminal.

Some of the radioactive air terminals used in Malaysia. There are about a half dozen variety still in use throughout the country. Left to right: Preventor (France), Preventor (UK) and EF33 (Australia).

2.2 Early Streamer Emission (ESE) air terminals When the radioactive air terminals were banned worldwide, the manufacturers rapidly introduced new air terminals which used nonradioactive means to launch the streamers. (The popular acronym ESE was only introduced a few years later in the early 1990s.) The ESE air terminal made use of proprietary designed metal enclosures around the ordinary lightning rods to create the ionisation that can generate the artificial streamers earlier than the natural ones. Different manufacturers will provide different shaped enclosures to distinguish their branded products. However, they all claimed that their air terminals can launch the streamers much earlier that the natural streamers, thus achieving the same kind of protection for the buildings that were provided by the radioactive air terminals. While scientists do not dispute that the various proprietary ESE air terminals can launch the streamers earlier, by a few micro seconds, they however do not agree to the speed of the streamer that was used by the ESE manufacturers in their calculation of the streamer length. While scientists have observed that the streamer speed is between 104 and 105 ms-1, the ESE manufacturers have arbitrary used a value of 106 ms-1 i.e. at least 10 times faster than that observed. Hence, while scientists claimed that the artificially generated streamers cannot be longer than a few meters only through observations in the

11

laboratory, the manufacturers had claimed that the streamers had a length of between 50 to 100 meters (i.e. 10 times longer!) in their marketing brochures. In this way, the ESE vendors can claim that only one centrally located ESE air terminal is needed to protect an entire building.

Some of the ESE air terminals that are commonly used in Malaysia. There are more than a dozen different types in use in the country. All these proprietary designs claimed to produce early streamers but it has been proven that they cannot protect the buildings from being struck by lightning. Top (L to R): Dynasphere (Australia), Prevectron (France), EF (Swiss). Bottom (L to R): St. Elmo (France), Pulsar (France), St. Elmo (Italy), DAT Controler (Spain) and Paratonerre (France).

Several independent scientific studies have shown that the ESE air terminals failed to capture lightning in the laboratories. They also failed to capture natural lightning when tested10 at the mountain top research laboratory in New Mexico, USA. In Malaysia, our photographic studies11 have shown
C.B. Moore, G.D. Aulich, and W. Rison, “Measurements of Lightning Rod Responses to Nearby Strikes”, Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 27, No. 10, pp. 1487-1490, May 15, 2000 11 Uman, M. A. and Rakov, V. A., “A Critical Review of Non-conventional Approaches to Lightning Protection”, Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, December 2002, pg. 1817 (http://plaza.ufl.edu/rakov/Uman&Rakov%20(2000).pdf)
10

12

that the ESE air terminals failed to protect many buildings from being struck by lightning. In Malaysia, the ESE air terminals were introduced in the late 1980s i.e. as soon as the radioactive LPS were banned. The ESE air terminals are the most common non-conventional air terminals used in the country. They are mainly made in Australia, France, Italy, Switzerland and Spain.

13

Section 3: The lightning elimination systems There are two basic types of lightning elimination (i.e. prevention) systems in the market. One is claimed by its vendor to be able to eliminate lightning strikes while the other is claimed to be able to drastically reduce the magnitude of the lightning strike current. 3.1 The Dissipative Array System (DAS)12 The DAS was invented in 1973 and was claimed to be able to prevent lightning from striking the facility it was installed on. However, the claim was short lived since American scientists who were called in by the US government to investigate the claims were able to photograph several lightning bolts striking on the DAS itself. The failures of the DAS can be found in a book13 on lightning protection that was published in 1977. In spite of this, the DAS is still being sold in the US market since its prohibition would have been a violation of the American constitution. Since the inventor of the DAS still claimed that the air terminal can prevent lightning strikes, other scientists and engineers have examined his claim and found them to be false. Due to the adverse publicity on the DAS terminology, the inventor had introduced a new concept to describe his invention in the 1990s and named it as the Charge Transfer System (CTS). However, other studies14 revealed that the DAS and CTS systems could not prevent lightning strikes. In 2001, the inventor had applied for a proposed standard for the CTS from the IEEE15, an international organisation well known for their technical standards in electrical and electronic technology. However, due to the absence of any scientific theory for the invention, the proposed standard had stalled but the vendors still continued to sell the system worldwide with the claim that an IEEE standard is being developed. The DAS was introduced into Malaysia in the early 1990s and a number of them had been sold to large corporations such as Petronas and Tenaga Nasional Berhad.

12

The DAS is one of several lightning protection systems available in Malaysia that claimed to be able to prevent lightning strikes to a building. The DAS is also known as the Charge Transfer System (CTS) in recent years. 13 “Lightning - Volume 2: Lightning Protection”, edited by R. H. Golde, 1977. 14 To review some of these studies, go to section 5.4 of the Lightning Safety website: http://www.lightningsafety.com/nlsi_lhm.htm 15 Institution of Electronic and Electrical Engineering (USA), Inc.

14

A DAS air terminal (circled) installed at a petroleum gas pumping station in Kapar. Similar installations in the USA have been struck by lightning and have been reported in several scientific papers.

Two Spline Ball CTS air terminals (circled) installed on a telephone exchange in Kuala Lumpur. The failure of these terminals have also been reported in scientific papers.

15

3.2 Other lightning elimination air terminals. Besides the DAS, other lightning prevention air terminals have also been brought into the country in recent years due. They are very much smaller in size and in various shapes. However, they still made similar claims as that of the DAS.

Another form of lightning prevention system installed on camera poles on the highway.

3.3 Semiconductor Lightning Eliminator (SLE) The SLE was invented in China and is claimed by its inventor to be able to reduce the lightning current by 99%, hence making it safe for installation on buildings which contained sensitive electronic systems. In Malaysia, the SLE air terminals were first installed in 2001 at a petrochemical plant on the east coast. The vendors of the system claimed that the success of the SLE is indicated by the number of “successful” direct strikes that it had intercepted. This number is given by a lightning counter circuit that is attached to the SLE conductor. However, technical data provided by the local user of this system shows that the claim made by the vendor was unjustified. While risk calculations indicated that the structures on which the SLE can expect an average of less than one direct lightning strike per year, the lightning counter attached to the SLE indicated that it had been struck by between 20 and 30 direct strikes in the first year of operation alone. Such a figure indicates that the SLE counter is either defective when it comes to counting the number of lightning strikes or it was design to register

16

all surges including lightning. Hence there is still no independent proof that the SLE can work as claimed. Furthermore, a very recent study16 by two scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences show that the lightning reduction properties of the SLE have not been observed when exposed to rocket triggered lightning.

SLE air terminals (circled) installed on petrochemical processing plants in Trengganu. Their claimed ability to reduce the captured lightning current by 99% has been disproved by scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

16

Zhang, Y. and Liu, X. “Experiment of artificially triggered lightning to lightning rod and Semiconductor Lightning Eliminator”, International Conference on Atmospheric Electricity (ICAE2003), France, June 2003 http://www.atmospheric-electricity.org/icae2003/program/abstracts/wednesday-d.htm#zhang

17

Section 4: The scientific controversy surrounding the ESE air terminal A scientific controversy emerged in the early 1990s when the ESE manufacturers applied to have a standard for their products to make them legal for sale. Without these standards, the sale would be illegal and a breach of the safety regulations in the countries they were sold. 4.1 How the controversy started The French ESE manufacturers were the first to developed their own “product standard” for their air terminal systems, the NFC 17-10217. The purpose of this “standard” is to standardise the installation method of the French ESE air terminals rather than to comply with the IEC standard on lightning protection. (France, like Malaysia, is already a member of the IEC and had already subscribed to the IEC standard on lightning protection, the IEC-61024.) At about the same time, the Australian ESE manufacturer managed to get their LPS “design method”, known as the Collection Volume Method (CVM), accepted as an informative appendix18 of the Australian/New Zealand standard AS/NZS 1768. The manufacturer claimed that their ESE air terminal can protect buildings from lightning if designed and installed according to the CVM method. Based on the successes of the French and Australian ESE manufacturers, the American ESE manufacturers also proposed a product standard, the NFPA781, to the NFPA and to the IEC. However, the American attempt was short lived as the NFPA and the IEC were, by then, able to conduct a proper study of the ESE terminals before they made their decision on the proposed NFPA781 standard. 4.2 The response of standards organisations to the controversy The following sections describe how the ESE issue was handled by the various foreign standards organisations: 4.2.1 International Electro-technical Commission (1995) The IEC engaged CIGRE to conduct a study on the ESE since CIGRE had the expertise to do so. CIGRE also has a local presence in this country, the Malaysian National Committee on CIGRE (MNC-CIGRE).
17

This “product standard” was developed by the ESE manufacturers through their trade association, known as GIMELEC. The standard had not gone through the normal scientific validation process that other standards were put through. See also section 4.2.4. 18 The standard document is divided into the main body and the appendices. The main body describes the mandatory technical details that must be implemented in order to comply with the standard. The appendices provide additional information that are related to the subject of the standard but is not a part of it. In the AS/NZS 1768 document, the reader is cautioned against using the CVM as a design tool since it had not been validated. However, the ESE vendors never highlight this fact to the unsuspecting potential customer.

18

In May 1995, the CIGRE lightning protection review committee rejected the ESE systems based on several scientific studies received from around the world. Among their conclusions were that the claims made for the streamer speed by the ESE manufacturers were higher by at least one order of magnitude. This unfounded claim made the length of the artificially generated streamers, and consequently the protection radius of the ESE air terminal, to be at least ten times longer than they actually were.

A copy of this CIGRE document was obtained by SIRIM representatives who had attended an IEC conference in South Africa in 1995.

Furthermore, there was clear evidence from Malaysia to show that the ESE air terminals had failed to protect the buildings. This evidence, in the form of photographs of lightning damaged buildings provided by us, contradicted the claims made by the ESE manufacturers that their systems had worked without any failure. Based on the CIGRE findings, IEC formally

19

rejected the ESE at a standards meeting19 that was held in South Africa a few months later.

The letter from Professor Emilio Garbagnati, the chairman of CIGRE Task Force TF 33.01.03, that acknowledged our contribution to the CIGRE study on ESE air terminals.

4.2.2 National Fire Protection Association (1995) Similar to the French standard, the proposed standard NFPA781 was developed by the ESE manufacturers themselves and submitted to the NFPA. Consequently, the NFPA Standards Council had engaged the NIST20 to conduct the study.
19

This meeting was attended by several participants from Malaysia and the documentation related to this meeting, including the rejection of the ESE, was brought back to SIRIM by the participants. We obtained a copy of this minute from SIRIM in December 1995. 20 The NIST is the leading American scientific body that examines new technology developments.

20

The NIST came up with an inconclusive finding after conducting an extensive literature research involving more than 300 documents that were available then. During an NFPA Standards Council meeting in August 1995, the NIST and CIGRE findings were discussed and this led the council to reject the proposed ESE standard. The council had stated21 that the ESE systems had not met the public safety criteria to allow them to approve the proposed NFPA781 standard for use in the USA. Among the statements issued by the NFPA Standards Council were:
“Proposed NFPA 781 is based on the assumption that ESE terminals provide a greater zone of protection than conventional terminals. It was undisputed, moreover, that proposed NFPA 781 would permit ESE systems using far fewer terminals and far greater spacing between terminals than in a comparable conventional system installed according to NFPA 780. Given the absence of reliable evidence that ESE terminals offer an increased zone of protection over that of conventional terminals, it seems clear that a sound technical basis for proposed NFPA 781 has not been demonstrated.” “Given the current state of knowledge, it does not appear that the type of further research and evaluation recommended by the NIST Report will be available in the short term. In the view of the Council, therefore, continuing standards development activities for ESE systems, would, at present, serve no useful purpose.”

Therefore, it can be seen that the ESE still had no scientific basis as of 1995. However, the proposed NFPA781 standard had been used by some ESE vendors and academics to promote the product even after 1995. 4.2.3 National Fire Protection Association (2000) In October 1998, the NFPA Standards Council had announced new study on the ESE air terminals as a settlement of a lawsuit brought by the ESE vendors following the rejection of the proposed NFPA781 standard. A new independent panel, known as the Bryan Panel, reviewed the studies that had been submitted from around the world and they reported their findings to the council in September 1999. Among the many new studies contained in the Bryan Report22 that conclusively demonstrated the non-scientific and un-proven status of the ESE air terminals was a study23 on lightning struck buildings that were submitted by us. Our study contained photographs of the buildings “before” and “after” they were struck by lightning, hence the presence and failure of the ESE air terminal in each case study was indisputable.
NFPA Standards Council Decision of July 18, 1995, D #95-26. Bryan, J. L., Biermann, R. G., and Erickson, G. A., “Report of the Third Party Independent Evaluation Panel on the Early Streamer Emission Lightning Protection Technology”, report submitted to the NFPA Standards Council, September 1999 23 Hartono, Z. A., and Robiah, I., “A Long Term Study on the Performance of Early Streamer Emission Air Terminals in a High Isokeraunic Region”, report submitted to the Third Party Independent Evaluation Panel on the Early Streamer Emission Lightning Protection Technology, National Fire Protection Association (USA), February 1999
22 21

21

This is an example of a recent “before” and “after” lightning strike photograph. The Royal Selangor Club building in Damasara in 1998 soon after it was installed with an ESE air terminal (circled).

The Royal Selangor Club building after it was struck and damaged (circled) by lightning in 2001. This kind of “before” and “after” photographs have provided indisputable proof to the western scientific world that the ESE air terminals are non-scientific and unproven. We have provided dozens of such examples to western scientists since 1995.

In April 2000, the council concluded24 that there was sufficient new information to show that the ESE air terminals were in fact non-scientific and
24

NFPA Standards Council Decision of April 28, 2000, D #00-13.

22

un-proven in their existing form. Hence, the 1995 rejection of the proposed NFPA781 standard for the ESE air terminal was upheld again by the council. Among the statements issued by the NFPA Standards Council in April 2000 were:
“As indicated above, the Council’s previous decision in July 1995 not to issue the proposed NFPA 781 and to discontinue the ESE technical committee project was based on the fact that “given the absence of reliable evidence that ESE terminals offer an increased zone of protection over that of conventional terminals, it seems clear that a sound technical basis for proposed 781 has not been demonstrated.” (D #95-26) Nothing in the record now before the Council has supplied that reliable evidence or has caused the Council, upon its de novo reevaluation of the entire matter, to come to a different conclusion. In particular, the chief findings of the Bryan Panel Report support the Council’s conclusion. Specifically the Panel Report noted that, while ESE air terminals appear to be technically sound in the limited sense that they are generally equivalent to the conventional Franklin Air Terminal in laboratory experiments, the Panel found that the claims of enhanced areas of protection and the essentials of the grounding system have not been validated. Specifically the Panel Report says at page 26: The ESE lightning protection technology as currently developed in the installation of complete systems does not appear to be scientifically and technically sound in relation to the claimed areas of protection or the essentials of the grounding system. The report adds on page 27: There does not appear to be an adequate theoretical basis for the claimed enhanced areas of protection with limited down conductors and grounding system. Given these findings, which are, in the view of the Council, supported by the record as a whole, the Council does not believe there is any basis to issue a separate standard, such as proposed NFPA 781, for ESE lightning protection systems or to renew standards development activities aimed at creating such a standard.”

This means that the proposed NFPA781 standard still had no scientific basis in April 2000. In addition, there was ample evidence from Malaysia research findings to show that they did not work. In spite of this, the ESE air terminal was still proposed for the Malaysian lightning protection standard by the UTM led committee at the end of 2000. However, this proposal was rejected by the Industry Standards Council based on our report to them. 4.2.4 French “product standard” (2001) Following the failure of the American ESE manufacturers to secure a standard for their product from the NFPA in 2000, a French government scientific agency, INERIS25, conducted a detailed study26 on the French
Institut National de L’Environnement Industriel et des Risques Gruet, P, “Etude des Paratonnerres a Dispositif d’Amorcage:”, INERIS, October 2001 (http://www.ineris.fr/recherches/download/PDA.pdf)
26
25

23

“product standard” and the French-made ESE systems. They found that most of the ESE air terminals had not been tested against the French standard NF C 17-102 that were developed by the ESE manufacturers themselves.

An example of a French made ESE air terminal (arrowed) that was installed on the roof of an apartment in Putrajaya. Although the ESE vendor claimed that this air terminal can provide protection coverage for the entire apartment block, lightning had struck and damaged the roof (circled) just below the terminal. The French authorities are very concerned that French products had endangered the public within and outside their country. Perhaps the Malaysian authorities should do the same since this kind of endangerment occurs within their own country.

The translation27 of the conclusion of the INERIS study is as follows:
“The underlying concept of ESE devices is that they generate upward streamers earlier than done by traditional Franklin rods. According to French Standard NF C 17102, this time advance is the characteristic parameter of the effectiveness of this equipment, and it can be measured in a high voltage laboratory. It is necessary to know the propagation velocity of the upward streamer to determine the attraction range of an ESE device. Speeds measured during thunderstorms exhibit wide dispersion (between 105 and 106 m/s). More importantly, the theory behind ESE devices has not been proven. The study by INERIS revealed the following: • • • Some ESE devices cannot be tested in the laboratory even though they are advertised as being in accordance with Standard NF C 17-102. Certain models have never been tested to verify that they were capable of withstanding the impact of lightning currents. The radius of protection that some manufacturers claim to be based on the provisions of Standard NF C-17-102 has not been verified.

27

Courtesy of Dr. Abdul Mousa of BC Hydro, Canada

24

• •

The superiority of ESE devices compared to the simple Franklin rod, has not been demonstrated. The advance triggering time, even if measured under specific conditions, is not sufficient to justify the protection range claimed in the Standard. This is because the used formula rests on hypotheses regarding the propagation velocity of the upward streamer and the adequacy of the energy brought by the downward leader. The ESE approach involves unjustified confidence in the protection range beyond what is warranted by the physics of the problem.

When the results of our review were presented to GIMELEC, the manufacturers promptly offered to revise Standard NF C 17-102. We believe it to be necessary to validate the underlying hypotheses to determine the protective range from the time advance measured in the laboratory. Consequently, we recommend that ESE devices built according to Standard NF C 17102 of 1995 not be used to protect any hazardous installations that can pose a hazard to the environment. To resolve the question regarding the effectiveness of ESE devices, we suggest two research projects: a) taking advantage the large number of installed devices and the experience gained from using them to estimate the extent of the protection that they provide, b) investigating the validity of the underlying theory and the appropriateness of the use of the advance triggering time as a performance criterion.”

The INERIS report was published in 2001 and until today the French ESE manufacturers had not been able to comply with the report. This means that the thousands of French made ESE air terminals already in use in Malaysia do not comply with any standard since the French “product standard” NF C 17-102 had been discredited by their own government agency. In the INERIS report, our study on the ESE failures was also mentioned28 as a factor in their decision to review the French ESE standard. 4.2.5 Draft Australian/New Zealand Standard (2002) In 1999, the Australian/New Zealand standard for lightning protection, AS/NZS 1768, was put on a review process to update the information based on recent findings. The CVM method for designing the LPS, which was described in the standard, was not a valid method since it was found only in the appendix and not in the main body of the standard document. This status was clearly stated in the standard document but was never explained to the potential buyer by the ESE vendor. Nevertheless, the CVM has been widely used as a design tool to market the Australian-made ESE air terminals around the world to unsuspecting buyers. This means that the Australian-made ESE air terminals
28

Gruet, P, “Etude des Paratonnerres a Dispositif d’Amorcage”, INERIS, October 2001, pp. 30/46.

25

that are widely used in this country are without compliance to even the Australian standard. The original CVM method was based on a study conducted by a South African scientist. However, his study was based on measurements to lightning current that were made at the base of a tall observation tower. His study had been proven inaccurate by two researchers at different times, B. Melander (1985) and V. Rakov (2001), who showed that lightning current measurements made at the base of a tower is significantly different from those made at the top29. Hence the CVM method was already technically invalid when it was inserted into the AS/NZS 1768 in 1991. To overcome this problem, the Australian ESE manufacturer had made modifications to the original CVM method and had renamed it to the Field Intensification Method (FIM). To add credence to the CVM/FIM method, a study based on the performance of their ESE air terminals in Malaysia was made by the manufacturer to show that the method was “successful”. However, these reports failed to convince the Australian/New Zealand standards committee when our studies30,31 showed that the data contained in the manufacturer’s reports were grossly incorrect. Since the CVM/FIM method still had not been proven, it was again inserted into the appendix of the new draft standard32 that was published for public comments in June 2002. This means that the CVM/FIM method is still not a valid lightning protection design method as far as the draft AS/NZS 1768 standard is concerned. After more than ten years, the Australian ESE manufacturer is still without any valid theory to support their claims for their CVM/FIM method or for their ESE air terminals. In Malaysia, more than a thousand Australian-made ESE air terminals had been installed on government buildings, colleges, industrial plants, commercial buildings, condominiums and bungalows.

Mousa, A. M., “Validity of the Collection Volume Method/Field Intensification Method for the Placement of Lightning Rods on Buildings”, 26th International Conference on Lightning Protection, Krakow – Poland, September 2002. http://www.power.nstu.ru/conference/ICLP%202002/proceedings/10a04.pdf 30 Hartono, Z. A. and Robiah, I., “A review of the Erico survey and analysis of bypasses and raw strike data obtained from the Dynasphere installations in the Klang Valley, Malaysia” report submitted to the Australian/New Zealand Lightning Protection Committee EL-024, September 2001. 31 Hartono, Z. A. and Robiah, I., “An analysis of the data contained in the paper – Field validation of an air terminal placement method”, report submitted to the Australian/New Zealand Lightning Protection Committee EL-024, January 2002. 32 Draft for Public Comment, Australian/New Zealand Standard, Lightning Protection, (Revision of AS/NZS 1768 - 1991), pp. 163 – Appendix F: Field Intensification Method (Informative). https://committees.standards.com.au/COMMITTEES/EL-024/C0044/DR02359-PDR.pdf http://www.standards.co.nz/drafts/dr02359nz.pdf

29

26

4.3 Selected responses from foreign scientific institutions In response to the call made by the NFPA in 1998 for new information on the ESE air terminals, dozens of scientists from around the world submitted their findings or comments to the Bryan Panel and to the NFPA Standards Council. The following describes some of the responses of the various institutions to the ESE controversy: 4.3.1 International Conference on Lightning Protection (ICLP) The ICLP is an international scientific organisation, like CIGRE, that focus on lightning and lightning protection. It has been in existence for more than 50 years and its members consist of the leading lightning scientists of various countries around the world, some of whom are also members of the CIGRE lightning committee. In response to the legal action on the NFPA by the ESE vendors, the ICLP had issued a joint statement33 by its members to reject the ESE air terminal on scientific basis. The signatories consist of more than a dozen academics and lightning scientists who are the leaders in the field in their respective countries. 4.3.2 National University of Singapore (NUS) The NUS is recognised as one of the leading lightning research universities in the region. One of its academics, Professor Liew Ah Choy (elelac@nus.edu.sg), was also a co-author of the scientific paper that provided field evidence on the failure of the radioactive lightning air terminals in Singapore in the 1980s. In his letter to the NFPA in February 1999, Professor Liew had written the following statements:
• “The use of ESE lightning protection systems is not recommended in the Singapore Code of practice for Lightning Protection SS CP 33: 1996, of which I am the Chairman of the Technical Committee. The Building Control Division of the Public Works Department of the Singapore has also much earlier in 1982 banned the use of radioactive lightning protection terminals for installation on its projects submitted after this date. The decision has been based on several and sufficient known failures in their use in the earlier years.” “Also, the Technical Committee of the Singapore Code cannot see the scientific merit of the remarkable claims made by the ESE systems, i.e. particularly, their much increased range of attraction to a lightning leader.” “Scientifically, I cannot reconcile the claims with the Law of Physics. None of the vendors/manufacturers of these devices have also been close to attempting to use good Physics to logically explain their claims of the performances.”

“Scientists Oppose Early Streamer Emission Air Terminals” http://www.lightningsafety.com/nlsi_lhm/charge_tranfer_oposition.htm

33

27

4.3.2 University of Strathclyde (United Kingdom) This university is also recognised for its research on lightning in Britain. Many of the lecturers in UTM had graduated from this university, including those that supported the non-standard LPS. The researchers, Professor I. D. Chalmers and Dr. W. H. Siew (w.siew@eee.strath.ac.uk), issued a joint statement to the NFPA in February 1999, as follows:
• “The motivation for the study was purely academic. Three years ago, we could find no indisputable scientific evidence in the published literature of learned societies worldwide, to support the claimed performance of ESE lightning protection systems. Today, we are still patiently looking.” “To summarise, we are still not able to find any scientific evidence in the published literature to support the claimed performance of ESE protection systems. Our own study is ongoing and we are hopeful that our understanding of such systems would be enhanced in the next 3 years.”

28

Section 5: Local public institutions that supported the scam The proliferation of the non-standard LPS in Malaysia, in particular the ESE systems, could have been stopped if not for the support given to them by some local public institutions since 1993. These institutions, primarily Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) and the Standards and Industrial Research Institute of Malaysia (SIRIM), have been giving direct and indirect support to the non-standard systems through the activities of some of their technical personnel. 5.1 UTM’s role in promoting the scam Some of UTM’s academics (the academics) attached to IVAT34 had been aware of the failures of the ESE air terminals as early as August 1993. In spite of this, they had continued with their support for the ESE and the DAS air terminals for several years and had even suggested that the ESE air terminal technology be included in the new Malaysian standard. 5.1.1 UTM academics’ prior knowledge of the ESE failures The academics were aware that the ESE air terminal had failed to protect buildings since they had seen the evidence from our presentations at the following conferences/seminars: • • • 1st Annual Technical Conference on Lightning Protection and Earthing35, Kuala Lumpur, August 1993 International Conference on Electromagnetic Compatibility36, Kuala Lumpur, April 1995 (ICEMC95) National Technical Seminar on Standardisation and Development of Lightning Protection Technologies – Malaysian Environment37, Kuala Lumpur, November 1996 (NTS96)

In the above conferences/seminar, the photographs of the damaged buildings, where the ESE air terminals had been used, were shown to the participants. In the ICEMC95 and NTS96 conferences, clear warnings about the non-standard LPS were given in our papers, such as:
• “The use of non-standard lightning protection devices should be totally avoided since the widespread applications of these devices have resulted in many buildings and structures being struck by lightning. Local standards on lightning protection practices should be tightened to be in line with other

Institut Voltan dan Arus Tinggi or Instutute of High Voltage and Current Hartono, Z. A., “Advanced Lightning Protection Techniques in Hazardous Material Handling Environment”. 36 Hartono, Z. A., and Robiah, I., “A Method of Identifying the Lightning Strike Location on a Structure”. 37 Hartono, Z. A., and Robiah, I., “Lightning Protection of Structures in a High Flash Density Zone”.
35

34

29

national codes where the use of non-standard devices has been partially or totally banned for safety reasons.” ICEMC95 pg. 115. • “Since many buildings in Kuala Lumpur that were equipped with proprietary air terminals have been found to be struck by lightning, it is highly recommended that the practice of installing lightning conductors that conform to the code be strictly enforced.” NTS96 pp. 5. “It has been widely observed that buildings in Kuala Lumpur, which were equipped with one of these types of ESE devices, have been struck by lightning, some repeatedly.” NTS96 pp. 6. “The high incidence of lightning strikes to buildings in Kuala Lumpur is a phenomenon that is directly related to the city being located in a natural high flash density region. However, what is of more importance here is that the various types of lightning protection systems used to prevent lightning from attaching to and damaging these building have been found to be ineffective.”, NTS96 pp. 9 “There is an urgent need to review the use of proprietary air terminals in a high flash density zone since many buildings that were installed with these terminals have also been struck by lightning. Current research in the west has found many anomalies in the claimed effectiveness of these terminals and their results should be closely monitored. The continued use of proprietary air terminals in the hazardous material industry (eg. petroleum, armament and chemical industry) poses an unacceptable risk of fire and explosion of a major scale.” NTS96 pp. 10

In their show of support for the non-standard systems, the academics who attended the presentations had disagreed with the above findings. Ironically, they were also the main organisers of the above two events. On the other hand, Professor Mat Darveniza, a University of Queensland lightning expert who had also attended the 1995 conference, had included our findings in his report38 on the ESE air terminals to CIGRE. The report mentioned our findings in the following two statements:
• “Support for the view that non-standard air terminals in general and ESE air terminals in particular cannot protect buildings in accordance with the claimed enhanced zones of protection (as defined by the claimed protective radii noted above) is provided by the observations of Hartono and Robiah [1995] who have observed lightning strike attachment points on buildings in Malaya well within the claimed zones of protection.” “Our conclusion that non-standard air terminations cannot have striking distances up to 50 m greater that simple air terminations is supported by observations in Malaya by Hartono and Robiah [1995] of lightning strikes to unprotected parts of buildings well within the claimed enhanced zones of protection of non-standard air terminations.”

The above statements by Professor Darveniza and his colleagues show how clearly our photographs had communicated the evidence of the failures of the ESE air terminals.
38

Darveniza, M., Mackerras, D., and Liew, A. C., “Critical Review of Claimed Enhanced Lightning Protection Characteristics of Early Streamer Emission Air Terminals for Lightning Protection of Buildings”, report submitted for the CIGRE Task Force on “Lightning Interception”, TF 33.01.03, May 1995.

30

Furthermore, some of the SIRIM officials who had attended the 1995 conference had agreed with our findings and had invited us to join the SIRIM lightning protection committee. (Unfortunately, some of those in the SIRIM standards development department did not agree with their colleagues who had attended the conference.) This clearly shows that the messages on the hazards of the nonstandard LPS were not ambiguous to the non-expert audience in 1995.

The first page of the SIRIM’s letter accepting of our participation in the Malaysian lightning protection committee. However, UTM academics had rejected our participation because of our opposition to the ESE air terminal which they supported.

31

5.1.2 IVAT workshop promoting the ESE air terminal In another show of support for the non-standard LPS, the academics organised a series of workshops39 for engineering professionals on lightning protection in July 1995 where the ESE air terminal concept was one of the subjects promoted by the main lecturer, a foreign “expert” of the ESE manufacturer. This workshop gave the ESE concept some form of “legitimacy” since it was organised by a prestigious university and was not opposed by the academics concerned. This workshop was believed to have been conducted in several other locations around the country where it was attended by dozens of engineering professionals.

The 1995 advertisement flyer of the UTM organised workshop where the ESE air terminal concept was taught to the participants.

5.1.3 UTM book promoting the DAS and ESE air terminals In a very clear show of support for the non-standard system, a UTM academic had written a book40 about lightning and lightning protection in Bahasa Malaysia. In that book, published in 1998, several false statements about lightning protection were made such as: •
39

That the conventional air terminal technology had been rejected by many standards bodies

“A Two Day Workshop on Lightning and Transient Overvoltage and Overcurrent Protection”, IVAT, Kuala Lumpur, July 1995. 40 “Kilat dan Perlindungan” by Hussein Ahmad, Penerbitan UTM, 1998. See also Appendix 5.

32

That the DAS and ESE systems were described as “advancements” in lightning protection technology.

The author did not mention that these non-standard LPS had no scientific basis and were unproven and that the ESE system had already been rejected by CIGRE, the IEC and the NFPA in 1995. Hence, any person who have little or no background knowledge about lightning protection will, without doubt, believe what had been written in this book since it had been written by an engineering professor and published by a reputable technical university.

The UTM book on lightning protection that contained factual errors about the nonstandard lightning protection system. This book seemed to be the only available source on lightning protection for the Malaysian student, professional and public.

5.1.4 UTM academics promoted the ESE in standards committee Several UTM academics were appointed by SIRIM to lead the lightning protection committee which started their activities in 1998. However, they had objected to our participation in the committee because of our strong opposition to the ESE technology. Instead they had invited some of the local ESE vendors to participate in the committee. The academics had also suggested to the committee that the ESE systems should be included in the revised Malaysian standards since they were already widely used in the country. These facts can be confirmed by the SIRIM standards development department and the members of the Industry Standards Committee – Electro-technical (ISC-E) from the government and other local universities.

33

5.1.5 UTM academic appointed as adviser to a local ESE vendor A senior academic, a professor, was appointed as an adviser to the local vendor of an ESE manufacturer from 1998 to 2000. (This fact was revealed by the academic in his resume that was posted on the UTM website recently.) 5.1.6 UTM’s influence on their students From technical discussions held with engineers who had graduated from UTM, we have noted that the academics have had an adverse influence on their students and graduates. The influence is as follows: • Some engineers had implemented the DAS and ESE systems without realising that they were non-standard or unapproved until they were told about it and presented with the relevant facts. Since the nonstandard systems had already been widely used at the UTM campus in Johor and that their lecturers had spoken very highly about them, these engineers had assumed that the DAS and ESE systems were already valid for use in the country. Some of the higher qualified engineers, i.e. those who had MSc degrees, had defended the DAS and ESE systems even when the scientific facts had been shown to them. Some of them, working in corporate R&D establishments, even conducted research to prove the validity of these non-standard systems even though similar experiments had been unsuccessfully in the west and reported in journals.

Due to concerns that many of the university’s engineering graduates might have been “brainwashed” by their lecturers into accepting the nonscientific and unproven DAS and ESE systems, we have recently advised the Vice Chancellor and the Minister of Education to look into this matter seriously. Failure to arrest this problem will lead to more non-standard LPS being used nationwide by unsuspecting new engineering graduates. 5.1.7 UTM’s influence on the general populace The book published by UTM seemed to be the only reference book on lightning protection that is in mass circulation within the country. For example, it is the only book available on LPS in the National Library. Hence, in the absence of any other reference information about LPS, those who have read the book may have been influenced by the claims made for the non-standard LPS. Therefore, it is important that the influence of this book be curtailed to prevent the further spread of the errant information about the non-standard LPS. In this respect, we have advised UTM to make a study of this problem so that the book will not have an adverse influence on the public. However, in

34

spite of this, they have ignored our advice and the book continued to be sold to the public by the UTM publishers. The most recent sales were made at the International Book Fair at the Putra World Trade Center in May 2003. 5.1.8 Clear evidence of ESE failures within the UTM Skudai campus Most of the faculty buildings have been installed with the ESE air terminals and many of these buildings have been damaged by lightning strikes, just like the buildings that were struck by lightning in Kuala Lumpur. This situation is ideal for studying the performance of the ESE air terminals under controlled conditions where the monitoring can be done on a daily basis if required. Therefore, it is strange that the academics did not associate these damages with the failure of the ESE air terminals and had rejected studies that show similar damages to those found at their campus. One reason could be that these academics were very ignorant of the basic effects of lightning strikes to buildings and therefore they should be considered as amateurs instead of experts in lightning protection (as they claimed to be).

One of the UTM buildings in Skudai that had its façade damaged (circled) by lightning. An undamaged façade would have a sharp pointed apex. Several other similar buildings had been struck also with the damage in varying sizes. Most of the faculty buildings were installed with the ESE air terminals (arrowed).

On the contrary, it is also possible that these academics knew of the failures of the ESE air terminals from the lightning damages that had occurred on the buildings in the Skudai campus. However, they had concealed this evidence from their peers, fellow committee members and the government in order to support the ESE systems.

35

5.2 SIRIM’s role in promoting the scam We have reason to believe that some of the SIRIM personnel have voluntarily supported the scam or have been duped into supporting the scam. The following describe their role: 5.2.1 SIRIM’s awareness of the ESE failures and rejection SIRIM is aware of the ESE air terminal failures since they had prior information about it from the following events: • • • • The dubious nature of the non-standard (ESE) air terminals was exposed in our letter to The Star in June 1993. SIRIM personnel had attended the 1995 conference where our photographs of lightning damaged buildings were shown. SIRIM invited us to participate in the lightning protection committee on the suggestion of the then Director General of SIRIM. SIRIM personnel 41 had attended an IEC technical meeting in South Africa in October 1995 where the rejection of the ESE air terminal technology was announced. IEC had contacted SIRIM in December 1995 with regard to our photographs that were shown in the IEC meeting in South Africa.

The letter from IEC to SIRIM that requested for our photographs that had been shown in the South Africa meeting.
41

M. Philip and M. N. Zakaria (according to the minutes of the meeting in Durban, South Africa).

36

SIRIM personnel had attended the 1996 lightning protection standardisation seminar where the status of the non-standard systems was clarified and more of our photographs were shown. SIRIM was also one of the co-sponsors of the seminar.

Based on the above events, it is very clear that SIRIM was already aware about the controversial nature of the ESE air terminal and that it had been rejected by the IEC. SIRIM was also aware of our participation in CIGRE and IEC standards activities and our opposition to the non-standard LPS. 5.2.2 SIRIM’s support for the ESE systems Some of the SIRIM personnel who were involved in the lightning protection standards development seemed to have supported the scam by their actions as described below: • They concealed the fact that the ESE had been rejected by the IEC instead of informing the various ministries and government agencies about it. They collaborated with the UTM academics to prevent our participation in the lightning protection committee in 1998. They had intentionally sent42 a copy of our report43 on the unconventional LPS, which was addressed to SIRIM and IEM, to a local ESE vendor by fax from one of their offices in September 2000. The aim of our report was to make SIRIM and IEM aware of the status of the ESE technology and the scam that was going on then. (Although we had raised a complaint about this matter to the manager concerned, and a copy had been submitted to the SIRIM president, we had yet to receive any reply from them about this or with regard to the report that we had sent earlier.) They did not provide a clear answer on the status of the non-standard LPS to the public. This matter was brought to our attention, verbally and in writing, by several concerned professionals and members of the public who had contacted SIRIM when they were suspicious about the validity of the ESE air terminals.

• •

42

The report was subsequently faxed by the local vendor to their Australian principal, and from there it was again faxed to the hotel venue of a lightning conference in a European country. 43 “A Recommendation to Ban the Sale and Usage of the Non-Conventional Lightning Protection System (Radioactive/Lightning Eliminating/ESE) in the Interest of National and Public Safety” dated 14th July 2000.

37

The letter to SIRIM and IEM that was sent to an ESE vendor by a SIRIM staff (see fax identifications at the top of the document). The letter was faxed from SIRIM CSC-BLD 11 to G.L.T. (M) S/B, a local ESE vendor, who then re-transmitted the fax to their principal, ERICO AUSTRALIA, an ESE manufacturer.

From the above events, we concluded that some of the SIRIM personnel connected with the lightning protection standards development had been supporting the scam. Until today, SIRIM still had not made it clear to the public that the non-standard LPS are not approved by them or by the IEC. 5.2.3 Use of the ESE air terminals by SIRIM SIRIM had installed44 several types of the ESE air terminals within their premises from the early 1990s right up to 2001. The installations that were done prior to October 1995 may be excused as plain ignorance on their part but the installations that were done after this meeting clearly shows their support for the non-standard LPS. This practice is against what the organisation had stood for i.e. to ensure that only standard compliant products be used in the country to ensure public safety. The logic is that if SIRIM used the non-standard LPS on their premises, it would have given these systems some “legitimacy” in the public opinion.
44

We have been observing the use of non-standard lightning protection systems by SIRIM since 1992 as part of our long term research on the performance of the ESE air terminals.

38

An ESE air terminal (circled) installed on Building #2 of the SIRIM complex in 1992. Another type of ESE air terminal had also been installed on Building #3.

Another type of ESE air terminal (circled) installed on the new SIRIM head office building in 1996 i.e. nearly a year after the ESE had been rejected by the IEC. This building was struck and slightly damaged by lightning not long after this picture was taken.

39

The SIRIM Block #8 without the ESE air terminal in January 2001. The building had sustained lightning strike damage (circled) in 1999.

The SIRIM Block #8 with the ESE air terminal (circled) that was installed between January and August 2001. SIRIM still continued to install the ESE air terminals even though the ESE technology had just been dropped from the new Malaysian standard.

40

Section 6: The Prime Minister’s Department – A Case Study Due to the highly elaborate nature of the scam, the government have become its biggest victim. ESE vendors have been racing against each other as to who can capture the prestigious buildings since the mere picture of these buildings installed with their product can add strategic mileage to their marketing effort. Among the prestigious buildings where the non-standard LPS, in particular the ESE air terminals, have been used include royal palaces and residences, government offices and residences, big corporate buildings, major shopping complexes, large hotels, golf resorts, mansions and bungalows. In recent years, buildings in Putrajaya and Cyberjaya have been targeted since these buildings belonged to the new multimedia generation and the non-standard LPS vendors are keen to show that their product can protect these buildings as well. However, hardly a year after these buildings were installed with the non-standard LPS, damages due to direct lightning strikes have begun to appear. 6.1 Estimation of risks One way to estimate the risk to lightning strikes is to calculate the expected number of lightning bolts striking the building. In Malaysia, the lightning flash density varies from 15 to 30 flashes per square kilometre per year. In simple terms, if the flash density is taken as an average of 25 flashes per square kilometre per year, we can expect about one lightning flash within an area of 200m by 200m. A building that has a footprint of about this size can expect to be struck at the rate of about once a year. This figure is just a guide since the weather pattern also varies from year to year. Whenever there is a prolonged drought, the thunderstorm occurrence will drop and this will reduce the frequency of lightning strikes. We can expect that there will be no strikes in some observed annual period while in some other period, there may be more than one strike. However, the variation will not be drastic. 6.2 The Prime Minister’s Department (PMD) building This building in Putrajaya has a footprint of just over 200m by 200m. Hence we can expect that lightning will strike this building at the rate of about once or twice a year. Since the roof of the PMD building is made of metal, a lightning strike to the metallic part will not leave a visible mark that can be observed from the ground. This fact has been noted in buildings that had been installed with metallic roofs or curtains for cosmetic reasons.

41

Hence, only those lightning that strike on the concrete parts of the roof will leave a scar that can be observed from the ground. Based on this fact, it is estimated that about one half of every lightning strike on the PMD building will leave a visible scar on the concrete corner of the roof. This works out to an average of one scar for every two years. Since the building had been installed with the French-made ESE air terminals near the corners of the roof, this provided a good opportunity to test the effectiveness of the terminal. Any lightning strike to the roof at the corner will be taken as proof that the ESE principle of protection is nothing more than a fraud.

About half a dozen French-made ESE air terminals (circled) had been installed on the PMD building. Based on our research findings, lightning will most likely strike on the corner of the roof (arrowed) and this is photograph had been taken as a “before event” evidence.

6.3 Lightning strikes to the Prime Minister’s Department building This building had been under observation since August 1999 i.e. when the non-standard LPS was installed. Based on our estimation, there should be about two lightning damage scars on the corners of the roof within the last four years. Only one side of the building can be observed carefully from the road since the other side is facing the lake. So far our observation shows that one of the corners facing the road had been struck. Since this strike location is well within the ESE air terminal protective range, the claims that it can provide a bigger protective range are definitely false. This predicted result is similar to those that we have observed for more than ten years and published in our research papers since 1995. 42

The lightning damaged corner of the roof of the Prime Minister’s Department building. The close proximity of this damage to the French-made ESE air terminal shows that their claim of enhanced protection is false.

We predict that there will be more lightning strikes that will result in similar or even more serious damage to the PMD building as long as the nonstandard LPS are used. Those in the government who are still sceptical of this scam need only to study this building and others around it from time to time to convince them of the truth of our claims.

43

Section 7: Recommendations to stop the scam To overcome this technical scam, it is important for the various government agencies and NGOs throughout the country to fully understand this problem and to recognise the detrimental effects this scam has on the nation from the economic and safety points of view. Since 1996, we have approached several government agencies to inform them about this problem but they have ignored our concerns, some repeatedly. Therefore, we would like to present our recommendations below to the respective government ministries, agencies and NGOs and hoped that some of them will realise the gravity of this scam and act upon the recommendations. Other ministries and government agencies are similarly recommended to review their safety procedures with respect to lightning. 7.1 Ministry of Home Affairs (MOHA) • MOHA should launch an investigation into this scam since it has not only caused tens of millions of Ringgit to be lost over the years but has put the nation and its people at risk to the dangers of lightning. Lightning has been regarded as one of the most destructive forces45 of Nature and the intentional exposure to it, as promoted by the vendors and their supporters, can be regarded as an obvious “act of terrorism”. In the interest of public safety, they should impose a temporary suspension of all new non-standard LPS installations in the country until the relevant ministries and agencies are able to understand the scope and gravity of the scam. They should investigate the alliance between the vendors of the nonstandard LPS, UTM and SIRIM to stop this well coordinated sophisticated scam that had duped thousands of professionals and laypersons into accepting or purchasing the non-standard LPS. Since some of the nation’s critical assets are affected, the actions of the vendors and their supporters can be regarded as an act of sabotage.

7.2 Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment (MOSTE) • They should take the initiative to educate the public about this technical scam as a vital part of their public awareness in S&T campaign. They should have been aware about this matter since it had been published in the press several times since 1993. We have also informed the ministry about our research a few times since 1995 but they were repeatedly ignored by the senior officials.

45

In the USA, lightning annually killed more people than tornadoes and floods combined. Hence, lightning protection has been put on a high priority by the NFPA and other weather related government agencies.

44

They should advise the users of the radioactive lightning rods that these should be replaced with the conventional LPS for their own safety. They should also conduct a study whether these radioactive rods had contaminated the building and the immediate environment. They should investigate whether other technical standards developed by SIRIM had been compromised by the direct or indirect influence of foreign vendors.

• •

7.2.1 SIRIM • They should disseminate all the information that they had received in 1995 with regard to the rejection of the ESE air terminals by the IEC and CIGRE to the relevant ministries and public agencies, if this still had not been done. Although they do not enforce the standards that they developed (as they recently claimed), they should dismantle all non-standard LPS from their premises. This is to stop giving the other government agencies and the public the impression that these systems have been “approved” by them. (Although we have advised them to do so in 2000 they still installed a new non-standard LPS on building #8 in 2001!) They should withdraw all test certificates on the unconventional air terminals against standards that are not related to lightning protection. This is to prevent the abuse of the certificates by the vendors for their dubious marketing purposes. They should make it publicly known that the new Malaysian standard did not approve the unconventional air terminals although some of the vendors of these systems are mentioned in the document. This is to avoid the public from being deceived into purchasing the non-standard LPS. They should refrain from considering a product standard for lightning devices, as they recently claimed in a media reply46, since this may be abused by the non-standard LPS vendors to obtain a “backdoor approval” for the thousands of unapproved devices already used in the country. They should investigate the reasons why a report that reveal the adverse status of the non-standard LPS had been sent to a vendor by their personnel. They should their selection criteria for a technical committee to ensure that only those who have some expertise in that field are selected to participate in a technical committee. Based on the published papers of

46

“Sirim’s lightning protection standards”, The Sun, June 6 2003.

45

UTM, none of the lightning protection committee members had published any work on lightning protection of structures. 7.2.2 Department of Standards Malaysia (DSM) • They should take the necessary actions to enforce the new Malaysian standards (MS-IEC 61024) so that the government and the public will no longer become easy prey of the non-standard LPS vendors. (We assumed that the responsibility to enforce the standards is with this government agency.)

7.2.3 Malaysian Institute of Nuclear Technology (MINT) • They should withdraw all licences given out to the users of the radioactive lightning rods and should ensure that these defunct systems are removed and disposed properly to prevent any contamination of the environment. They should refrain from issuing certificates to the ESE vendors that their products are non-radioactive. Some of these certificates have been abused by the vendor to confuse the consumers as a proof that the ESE air terminals are “approved by the government”.

7.2.4 Malaysian Meteorological Services (MMS) • They can play an important role in educating the public about the correct method of lightning protection since their American counterpart had taken a major step in this direction with the publication47 of their critical report on the non-standard LPS. They should also replace the non-standard LPS used at their numerous weather monitoring stations with the conventional ones.

7.3 Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs (MDTCA) • They should investigate the unethical methods used by the vendors of the non-standard LPS to sell their product to the consumers. They should consider taking legal actions against the non-standard LPS vendors for making false claims about their products. They should consider issuing a product recall on the non-standard LPS to ensure that public safety is given a high priority. (This is similar to the health authorities’ recent recall of defective pharmaceutical products.)

47

Uman, M. A. and Rakov, V. A., “A Critical Review of Non-conventional Approaches to Lightning Protection”, Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, December 2002, (http://plaza.ufl.edu/rakov/Uman&Rakov%20(2000).pdf)

46

7.4 Ministry of Housing and Local Government (MHLG) • They should consider suspending or withholding the Certificate of Fitness for buildings that had been installed with the non-standard LPS. Currently, it seemed that these buildings have been considered safe and fit for occupation as long as they have been installed with any type of LPS, whether standard or non-standard.

7.4.1 Department of Fire and Rescue Services (DFRS) • They should notify the building owners that their buildings are at risk of fire as a result of being struck by lightning if they had been installed with the non-standard LPS only. The case of the fire outbreak at the lightning struck religious school is sufficient proof that a non-standard LPS is a fire hazard.

The newly constructed staff quarters of the Fire and Rescue Services Department in Taman Melati, Kuala Lumpur. An Australian-made ESE air terminal (circled) had been installed on this building.

They should dismantle the non-standard LPS that have been installed on some of their new buildings and staff apartments since this may complicate their duties in enforcing the relevant fire prevention legislation.

7.5 Ministry of Education (MOE)

47

They should dismantle all non-standard LPS from the schools, matriculation colleges, universities and other related public institutions and replace them with the conventional ones in order to safeguard the nation’s school children and students. They should consider notifying and re-educating those engineers who had been taught to accept the non-standard LPS, either by their lecturers or through errant teaching media (eg. the UTM book on lightning protection). They should ensure that the correct information about the non-standard LPS (i.e. their non-scientific and un-proven status) is being taught at the various universities and higher education institutes. This is to ensure that these future engineers can uphold public safety after their graduation. They should ensure that books published by the universities and other educational institutions are of high quality and not detrimental to public safety. They should ensure that academics and students use refereed journals when they write their theses and/or books. They should ensure that universities have no links, whether commercial or intellectual, with private companies that supply products that dubious in nature or are known to be detrimental to public safety. These companies are well known for manipulating their links to academia for their own benefit. They should investigate whether there has been an attempt by the UTM management to cover-up the wrong doings of their professors since they have been informed about this matter for the past several years. They should be more serious in solving the problem of mediocrity in the academia since this problem had been highlighted48 15 years ago. Failure to arrest this problem may lead to other more serious problems such as low morale among the teaching staff, mediocre graduates and even the university being manipulated by foreign vendors.

7.5.1 UTM • They should ensure that all their students and academic staff are informed about the non-scientific and unproven status of the nonstandard LPS. They should ensure that all their former students and academic staff are also informed about the non-scientific and unproven status of the non-standard LPS. This recommendation is important because this larger and more significant group has been identified as the new wave of unwitting supporters of the non-standard LPS.

48

Rose Ismail “Mediocrity rules academia?” The New Straits Times, June 19 1988.

48

They should ensure that their academics based their opinion and teaching on peer reviewed materials and not popular myths and vendors’ dubious research works. They should ensure that their research staffs at IVAT have the basic capability to identify and interpret data related to lightning strikes, especially those data that are highly visible within their campus. They should ensure that their senior academic staffs have the intellectual capability to recognise a major scientific discovery when they are presented with one. Without this basic capability, it is highly improbable that they can make a scientific discovery.

7.6 Ministry of Transport (MOT) • They should ensure that the non-standard LPS installed on civil aviation facilities be replaced with the standard type. Currently, the non-standard LPS are widely used at some of the airport, communication and radar facilities.

The KLIA radar facility, like many other civil aviation facilities, has been installed with the unapproved and unproven ESE air terminal (circled). This radar can expect a direct lightning strike in the near future, if not already.

7.7 Ministry of Works • They should ensure that the ESE air terminals installed on their headoffice building be replaced with the standard type since this gave the

49

air terminals some form of “approval” in the ministry’s numerous projects. The building had also been struck and damaged by lightning. 7.7.1 Public Works Department (PWD) • They should ensure that all non-standard LPS installed on public buildings, including the PWD office complex, be replaced by the standard type. Currently, hundreds of public buildings have been installed with the non-standard LPS and many of them have been damaged by lightning. According to the project division, they have ceased using the nonstandard LPS in the new projects for the past two years but they have no plans to replace those non-standard LPS that have been installed in previous projects. This posture will lead to more public buildings being struck and damaged by lightning in the coming years.

7.8 Ministry of Defense (MINDEF) • They should ensure that the radioactive air terminals installed on the Mindef building be replaced with the standard type. The building had been struck several times in the last decade. They should also ensure that all non-standard LPS be replaced by conventional ones at the various critical defence facilities (eg. communication, armoury, ammo dumps, aircraft hangars, ships etc.).

7.9 Board of Engineers Malaysia (BEM) • Engineers registered with the BEM are required to adhere to the code of ethics on public safety. BEM should consider punitive actions on engineers who had flouted this ethic by recommending the installation of the non-standard LPS. These engineers knew that they have to comply with the technical standards in their profession. The board should review the engineering curriculum at UTM to determine that only valid knowledge is being taught by the academics.

7.10 Institution of Engineers Malaysia (IEM) • Engineers registered with the IEM are also required to adhere to the code of ethics on public safety. IEM should consider taking the same actions recommended to the BEM above on their members who have flouted the code.

7.11 Association of Consulting Engineers Malaysia (ACEM)

50

They should remind their members that the non-standard LPS is a public hazard and to refrain from recommending these systems in their projects. They should put public safety first before commercial interest in their projects.

7.12 Persatuan Arkitek Malaysia (PAM) • Like ACEM, they should remind their members that the non-standard LPS is a public hazard and to refrain from recommending these systems in their projects.

7.13 Federation of Malaysia Consumers Association (FOMCA) • FOMCA can assist the government in stopping this scam by educating the consumers on the dangers of using the non-standard LPS through their association’s network and various consumer awareness programs.

7.14 Other ministries, public agencies and NGOs • They too are welcomed to assist in stopping this scam based on the recommendations above. We are unable to approach all of them due to our very limited resources. We know that they too are victims of the scam since many of their buildings are installed with the non-standard LPS and many of these have been damaged by lightning. They only need to make a close inspection of their buildings to confirm this.

51

Section 8: Conclusion In this report, we have clearly demonstrated the nature of the scam and the involvement of two public agencies that should have acted to stop the scam (if they had wanted to do so). However, since they have decided to support the scam instead and had chosen to remain silent about it afterwards, we have no alternative but to make it public in order to enlighten the government and the people of Malaysia. This technical scam has been going on for too long, about 30 years. The fact that it is being supported by professionals, some of whom had doctoral degrees in electrical engineering, shows that this scam is highly sophisticated and well coordinated by the parties involved. Under this circumstance, the government and the public stand no chance against the unscrupulous tactics employed by the non-standard LPS vendors and their supporters. This report also shows that lightning research findings conducted in Malaysia had had a major impact on the scam in mostly western countries. Their universities and standards organisations, such as the National University of Singapore, the University of Queensland, New Mexico Tech, the University of Florida, CIGRE, IEC, NFPA, INERIS and Standards Australia had applied Malaysian research to denounce the non-standard LPS vendors’ false claims that their products were highly effective in protecting buildings from lightning strikes. Unfortunately, the equivalent Malaysian technical agencies, led by UTM and SIRIM, did not share this view and instead had suppressed both the IEC decision and Malaysian research findings on the ESE in order to promote the business interests of the non-standard LPS vendors. Their actions are nothing more than a betrayal of their own country for the commercial interest of unscrupulous foreign techno-quacks. The evidences that we have provided are hard to ignore and should be studied in detail by concerned Malaysians. It is bewildering to find that several professors from a supposedly “world class” university have been duped by claims that borders on the ridiculous. It is even more bewildering that they still hang on to this belief many years after they became the first privileged academics to be shown the evidence that disproved it. Perhaps a paradigm shift is required in the local academia. Malaysian academics must realise that they, like their more advanced western counterparts, no longer hold the monopoly for groundbreaking scientific discoveries. Let this scam be an example to academics that they could also be the cause for intellectual backwardness if they are not alert to the ploys of foreign techno-quacks. If they fail to realise this, then Malaysia’s “ivory towers” could be turned into nothing more than remote internetless villages where frogs and coconut shells abound.

52

We hope that the ministries, agencies and NGOs mentioned in this report are able to comprehend the background technical information related to the scam. We have provided the webpage addresses of some of the references mentioned in the footnotes to assist the technical professional in comprehending this report. They should be fully aware of the devious tactics of the non-standard LPS vendors and should not be put off by their strong arm49 tactics that they had practiced in some western countries. “Evil” can only flourish when good men (and women) just stood by and did nothing to stop them. Should any organisation require some assistance to understand this matter, we are ready to assist them by giving a presentation that is similar to the technical talks that we have given to IEM and to some of the local higher education institutes. Based on the feedback that we have received, most science and engineering professionals who attended our briefing found the subject of lightning protection interesting even if they failed to fully comprehend the subject. (Even the Honourable Prime Minister had found this subject of lightning protection interesting50 as long ago as in 1995!) Our objective is nothing more that to ensure that the public is safe from the hazards of lightning. The support from the government and NGOs in this matter is vital to ensure that the scam is stopped. We had fought an open intellectual battle against the manufacturers of the ESE air terminals in their own countries and had won this battle with the help of western scientists, but we have lost the battle at home in part due to a lack of support from the government and also due to the betrayal by local professionals. We hope that the same kind cooperation can be given by rational Malaysian scientists and technocrats who are concerned about the safety of the public and especially the children. Finally, if Malaysia is to become an independent and developed nation, then its scientists and technocrats should be committed to defend the country from dubious and unproven scientific ideas and innovations presented by unscrupulous foreigners in the guise of concerned scientists, technocrats and industrialists.

49

The non-standard LPS vendors took the NFPA to court for not approving their proposed NFPA781 standard in 1995. This action only confused the industry but gave the vendors an extra 5 years of lucrative sales in the USA and around the world, Malaysia included. UTM and SIRIM are well aware of this fact. 50 Letter from PM to Robiah Ibrahim dated 14 August, 1995.

53

Until today, the Honourable Prime Minister is the only person in the government to have positively responded to our research work.

References The following prominent academics/scientists can verify our contributions to the international scientific community and can assist the reader with more information on this subject if required: 1. Emeritus Professor Mat Darveniza (matt@itee.uq.edu.au), University of Queensland, Australia 2. Emeritus Professor Charles Moore (moore@nmt.edu), New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, USA 3. Professor Vladimir Rakov (rakov@ece.ufl.edu), University of Florida, USA 4. Professor Z. Flisowski (zdobyslaw.flisowski@ien.pw.edu.pl), Warsaw Polytechnic, Poland [Vice-President of ICLP] 5. Dr. A. M. Mousa (abdul.mousa@bchydro.bc.ca), BC Hydro, Canada 6. Professor A. E. Pedersen (aa-e-p@get2net.dk), Technical University of Denmark 54

Appendix 1: “Dubious devices that find their way here” The following is the full text of the above article:
“It seems that some western companies are practising double standards just to ensure that they reap huge profits at the expense of the safety of developing and Third World citizens. The recent US government revelation that some western pharmaceutical firms have for a long time been exporting medicines without informing medical practitioners of their inherent dangers is just one of the many examples of how the firms try to recoup their high R&D expenses by unethical means. Western pharmaceutical products which are considered unsafe in the west are not the only items that easily find their way into our markets nowadays. There is one other class of safety products, which is actually unsafe, but has been and is still being sold in the Malaysian market. They are the so-called sophisticated lightning protection devices being widely used in residential, commercial and public buildings and sophisticated electronic systems such as radars, satellite receivers and radio transmitters. In reality, about the only thing sophisticated about them are their design and manufacturing process but their effectiveness have been thoroughly disproved by western scientists 20 years ago. The reason these products have been so “successful” in Malaysia is partly attributed to the attitude of the local professionals themselves. Their apparent inferiority complex and lack of thorough analytical reasoning which is inherent in some of them ensure the proliferation of these devices which have been rejected by their western counterparts. As an example, any Sixth Form or first year university science student will know that the radioactive alpha particle associated in nuclear radiation has an ionisation range of about five centimetres in air. However, in one particular product brochure, the same radiation source was claimed to be able to ionise the air and provide protection for up to a range of 250m, a 5000 fold increase over the actual value. How absurd! The device in question also claimed to have used an isotope of gold as its ionisation source to impress potential clients. What is not revealed in the product brochure is the fact that this isotope of gold had a half life period of only a few days, the ionisation power is halved for every half-life period. This would mean that the device’s “effectiveness” would have been practically cancelled by the time it is put into service a few months later after shipment from the factory. Fortunately, lightning protection devices of this type have been banned by the authorities but their continued usage means that many buildings and facilities are drastically under protected as a result. Besides radioactive devices, other lightning protection devices which use the principle of point discharge and corona discharge have also been disproved for fairly obvious reasons but many engineers seem not to be aware of this fact. The problem is compounded when the inventors of these devices pass themselves off as experts in their field in technical seminars and easily convinced some of their “inferior” audiences of the superiority of their devices. While these vendors portray the products as being widely used in the west in their colourful product brochures, the opposite is actually true.

55

They may have been widely used in the 1970s but have since been curtailed or banned by new legislations and standards enacted in the following decade. These technically dubious devices are now referred to as non-standard since they fail to comply to updated and revised technical standards published in the mid-1980s by reputable engineering standards organisations. A survey of buildings in Kuala Lumpur will show a proliferation of these non-standard lightning protection devices. They are widely used on commercial buildings, apartments and condominiums, research establishments, universities, oil and gas facilities, petrol stations and homes of VIPs. A close inspection of some of these buildings would reveal that many of them have sustained some damage due to direct lightning strikes; some of them have even been struck many times by lightning despite having installed several units of the nonstandard devices. Malaysian engineers must realise that the public depends solely on them to provide the necessary expertise to protect them from the devastating effects of lightning. It is really a shame when some of these engineers merely accept the unfounded claims of these vendors when recommending the products to their clients. They should heed the recent call of the Works Minister not to accept new technologies without first scrutinising them properly for their authenticity and effectiveness. They are doing a disservice to their profession and their clients if they adopt technologies already shunned by their better informed western counterparts. They should understand that their actions can lead to very disastrous consequences since this country have more lightning flashes per square kilometre than any western industrial country.”

56

Appendix 2: Worldwide scientific support for our research work. The following are some of the known publications that refer to our research on lightning. Some of them have been posted on the internet and can be downloaded from the given webpage addresses.
1. Conference/journal publications and reports. 1. Zdeněk Rous, “Kritika současných metod ochrany před bleskem”, Elektrika.cz, elektrotechnika kazdy den, April 2003. (Czech) http://www.elektrika.cz/visit/kkah030403.html 2. Noack, F. and Hasse, P., “Blitzentladungen gezielt auslosen und einfangen – Utopie oder Wirklichkeit”, Elektrotechnische Zeitschrift (ETZ), Elektrotechnik und Automation magazine, March/April 2003. (German) 3. Uman, M. A. and Rakov, V. A., “A Critical Review of Non-conventional Approaches to Lightning Protection”, Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, December 2002. http://plaza.ufl.edu/rakov/Uman&Rakov%20(2000).pdf 4. Mousa, A. M., “Validity of the Collection Volume Method/Field Intensification Method for the Placement of Lightning Rods on Buildings”, 26th International Conference on Lightning Protection, Krakow – Poland, September 2002. http://www.power.nstu.ru/conference/ICLP%202002/proceedings/10a04.pdf 5. Darveniza, M., “The Placement of Air Terminals to Intercept Lightning in Accordance with Standards – Revisited”, 26th International Conference on Lightning Protection, Krakow – Poland, September 2002. http://www.power.nstu.ru/conference/ICLP%202002/proceedings/10a03.pdf 6. Noack, F, “Early Streamer Emission devices- Verbesserung des Blitzschutzes?”, Elektrotechnische Zeitschrift (ETZ), Elektrotechnik und Automation magazine, March/April 2002. (German) http://www.vde.com/file/29184.anhang1 7. Hasse, P., “Blitzschutzkonferenz – International Symposium on Lightning Protection”, Elektrotechnische Zeitschrift (ETZ), Elektrotechnik und Automation magazine, March/April 2002. (German) http://www.vde.com/file/29185.anhang1 8. Noack, F, Schönau, J, and Barth, A, “Untersuchungen zur Wirkung von ionisierenden Fangeinrichtungen”, 4th VDE/ABB Conference on Lightning Protection, Neu-Ulm, Germany, November 2001. (German) http://www.vde.com/file/30513.anhang1/noack_ese(bs4tg).pdf 9. Gruet, P, “Etude des Paratonnerres a Dispositif d’Amorcage: Ministere de l’Amenagement du Territoire et de l’Environment”, Institut National de l’Environnement Industriel et des Risques, October 2001, pp. 30/46. (French) http://www.ineris.fr/recherches/download/PDA.pdf 10. Tobias, J. M., et al, “The Basis of Conventional Lightning Protection Technology: A review of the scientific development of conventional

57

lightning protection technologies and standards”, report of the Federal Interagency Lightning Protection User Group, June 2001, pp. 59 http://www.lightningsafety.com/nlsi_lhm/conventionalLPT.pdf 11. Darveniza, M., “A Modification to the Rolling Sphere Method for Positioning Air Terminals for Lightning Protection of Buildings”, 25th International Conference on Lightning Protection, Rhodes – Greece, September 2000. http://www.hvlab.ee.upatras.gr/iclp2000/proceedings/904_908.pdf 12. Darveniza, M., “The Case for Differentiating the Interception Protection Required for Plane Surfaces from that for Pointed and Edge Surfaces When Positioning Air-Termination Systems”, report submitted for the October 1999 meeting of IEC TC81 Maintenance Team 7. 13. Bryan, J. L., Biermann, R. G., and Erickson, G. A., “Report of the Third Party Independent Evaluation Panel on the Early Streamer Emission Lightning Protection Technology”, submitted to the NFPA Standards Council, September 1999, pp. 23 & 24. 14. Flisowski, Z., “Promowana i rzeczywista skutecznoœæ piorunochronów z wczesn emisj strimerów (ESE)”, Warsaw, Poland, 1998. (Polish) http://www.spinpol.com.pl/Prof_Flis.htm 15. Darveniza, M., Mackerras, D., and Liew, A. C., “Critical Review of Claimed Enhanced Lightning Protection Characteristics of Early Streamer Emission Air Terminals for Lightning Protection of Buildings”, report submitted for the CIGRE Task Force on “Lightning Interception”, TF 33.01.03, May 1995. 2. Lightning protection standard: 1. Draft for Public Comment, Australian/New Zealand Standard, Lightning Protection, (Revision of AS/NZS 1768 - 1991), pp. 33. https://committees.standards.com.au/COMMITTEES/EL024/C0044/DR02359-PDR.pdf http://www.standards.co.nz/drafts/dr02359nz.pdf

58

Appendix 3: Deceptive sales tactics used by the vendors The methods used by the vendors in selling their non-standard systems are highly questionable. They have used a number of different techniques with each technique being applied according to the type of potential customer i.e. whether a non-technical layperson or a technical professional. The methods are briefly described below: 1. Melville’s “Lightning Rod Man” method (http://www.melville.org/lrman.htm) This refers to the 19th century short story about the devious lightning rod salesman who went from town to town selling lightning rods to the layperson in the USA. In the story, the method used by the lightning rod salesman is to strike the fear of lightning into the unsuspecting customer by using jargon that the customer does not fully understand. The salesman also portrayed himself as a person who is learned in the science of lightning and belittled the customer when he gets too many inquisitive questions about his product. A similar method is used by the modern day “lightning rod man” i.e. the non-standard LPS sales engineer. He will use his superior technical knowledge to dupe the potential customer into purchasing the non-standard system. The sales engineer is sometimes aided by a foreign “LPS expert” from the manufacturer if his potential customer is a non-specialist technical professional. The unethical tactic sometimes involved psychological operations by the foreign “expert” such as branding the potential customer as “backward”, “mediocre”, “archaic”, “old fashioned” etc. if he failed to understand or refused to accept the unconventional LPS. On the contrary, those who succumbed to the deception were praised as “brave”, “open minded” etc. as a reward. For example, an Australian ESE manufacturer even had the following phrase, supposedly made by Albert Einstein, written in the opening pages of its marketing brochures from 1987 to 1995: “Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from Mediocre Minds”. This kind of subtle phrase puts pressure on the potential customer to recognise the non-standard air terminal in order that he avoid being branded as mediocre by the foreign “expert” in front of his colleagues. Such tactics may succeed in making sales but they do not validate the non-standard LPS. 2. “Success stories” in foreign countries This “half-truth” tactic is used when the sales engineer meets with the layperson and professionals. He would provide references of “successes” in foreign countries that would be rather difficult for the layperson or 59

professional to verify. At the same time, any evidence of failures that occurred locally will not be mentioned. For example, one foreign ESE “expert” keeps referring to how the system was successfully used at a satellite ground station in a neighbouring country but refused to mention that the same system had failed to protect dozens of buildings from being struck by lightning in Kuala Lumpur although he already knew about it from our photographs and published works. This method was also used by the local vendors and some of the academics. 3. Claims of “on-going research” by the manufacturers This tactic is normally used when the sales engineer meets with the technical professionals. He would provide information about the research work that was being done by the manufacturer to “verify the effectiveness” of the product. This information is normally in the form of conference papers submitted by the manufacturers’ “experts” and the purpose is to make an impression on the professional about the “scientific nature” of their product. However, the result of the research work was never reported to the customer since the sale had been successful. Years later, a new “on-going research” program would be publicised to a new set of professionals but no reference was made to the earlier research program. This is because the results of the earlier work was either a failure or was inconclusive to show that the product worked. For example, a 1987 product brochure of an Australian ESE manufacturer had mentioned of an extensive field testing involving several air terminals that were exposed to lightning at a testing ground in the mountains of New Mexico, USA. However, a 1995 brochure by the same manufacturer made a passing reference about the New Mexico field test plus a similar new field test that was being conducted in Darwin, Australia. When questioned about the results of the earlier field test that was conducted in the USA, the sales engineer feigned ignorance about it and the foreign “expert” replied that he would have to check with his research colleagues about the results (in order to avoid answering the question directly). By 1998, the manufacturer published a paper51 concerning the work done at the Darwin site and by this time, nothing was mentioned at all about the 8 year long tests at the New Mexico site. The 1998 paper also made no mention that lightning had struck any of the air terminals in the Darwin tests after 3 years of exposure, thus suggesting that the air terminal still could not “attract” lightning.
J.R. Gumley, F. D’Alessandro, M.A. Austin, “Experimental arrangements to study lightning attachment characteristics in Northern Australia”.
51

60

In another study by American scientists, the Australian ESE air terminal was one of several types of ESE terminals that were subjected to natural lightning tests at their research laboratory in New Mexico. It was reported52 that none of the ESE air terminals they tested was struck by lightning in the 7 years that they were exposed to thunderstorms at the mountain top testing ground. Only the blunt tipped Franklin rods, which were also installed as part of the experiment, were struck several times while none of the ESE air terminals and the sharp tipped Franklin rods were struck. This independent study suggests that the ESE air terminals tested did not have the ability to attract lightning as claimed by their manufacturers. However, the ESE sales engineer would ignore all their earlier studies and refer only to the “on-going research” in order to dupe the unsuspecting customer.

This picture shows of one of the New Mexico test sites where several types of ESE (French and Australian air terminals) and conventional air terminals had been exposed to lightning for several years to gauge their effectiveness under natural lightning conditions. [This picture was obtained from one of the American lightning research websites.]

4. Lightning strike counters reading This tactic is a favourite method employed by sales engineers to convince the layperson and technical professional. The ESE air terminal is
52

Uman, M. A. and Rakov, V. A., “A Critical Review of Non-conventional Approaches to Lightning Protection”, Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, December 2002, pp. 1817. (http://plaza.ufl.edu/rakov/Uman&Rakov%20(2000).pdf)

61

often equipped with a lightning strike counter in its down conductor circuit. The purpose of the counter is to register the number of “successful” lightning strikes captured by the ESE air terminal. However, some of these counters had given an exceedingly high count, some as high as 30 strikes in a single year. This figure is used by the sales engineer to impress the unsuspecting potential customer that the air terminal is working very well i.e. “capturing” many lightning bolts. However, such high counter readings are misleading since the unconventional air terminal can expect an average of only one direct strike per year if its non-scientific claim is true and it is installed on a 100m high building. The high counter reading only showed that the counter supplied was of low quality i.e. its mechanism had registered other current surges instead of lightning. Hence the sales engineer is depending on the ignorance of the potential customer to believe the unjustified claims and to make his sale. 5. Claims for scientific freedom This tactic is used when the sales engineer is confronted with scientific evidence that his product is a failure. He will appeal to the potential customer by saying that the “advanced research” that they were conducting on the nonstandard system should not be “gagged” by academics and scientists. This kind of appeal may seem reasonable in the early stages of the product life cycle but, after more than a decade of failure to provide even a scientific basis for their product, the sales engineer should have the decency to stop selling the non-standard LPS until he and his colleagues can show indisputable scientific evidence that their product actually works. 6. Scare tactic and creating doubts This tactic is used when the sales engineer meets a project engineer that does not have a firm knowledge about the lightning protection system to be used. This situation is commonplace since our experience shows that many project engineers have never seen a lightning protection standards document before and would rely on the vendors for information about lightning protection. The sales engineer will try to scare the project engineer into buying his product by inducing doubt on the conventional system, such as by suggesting “What if the conventional system does not work?” Such scare tactics, when combined with other dubious methods, sometimes work when the potential customer is new to the subject.

62

This matriculation college building has metallic roofing that is bonded to the structural steel frame of the building. As such, there is no additional requirement for a lightning protection system according to the lightning protection standards document. However, an experienced sales engineer can use a scare tactic to induce the project engineer to install the non-standard LPS (arrowed). The education ministry, as well as other Federal and State government agencies, has lost millions of Ringgit through the purchase of the nonstandard LPS in this way.

7. “Approvals” from foreign and local standards bodies This tactic is used by the sales engineer to convince his potential customer that his product had been “approved”. He would show to them the documents from the standards bodies that allegedly provide the approval to his product. One document, a “certificate of test witnessing” from the BSI53, was used to convince the customer that the French-made LPS is “approved” by the body. However, a close inspection revealed that the certificate only stated that the test on the product had been carried out in their (BSI) presence. Furthermore, there already was a disclaimer (in fine print) at the bottom of the certificate that the document was not to be taken as an approval for the product. Another document, a “certificate of testing” from SIRIM was similarly used. However, the document only stated that the product had been certified for testing against an electromagnetic compatibility standard to show that it will not cause any interference with the domestic electronic appliances. The potential customers, who probably have never seen any SIRIM standards
53

British Standards Institute.

63

document before, would not have known that the document had been misused to deceive them into purchasing the unapproved product. Another similar document from MINT54 shows that the non-standard system had been tested and found to be free from any radioactive materials. This document had been used to remove any further doubts that the potential customer may have on the non-standard LPS, especially after the customer have previously been using the banned radioactive LPS. 8. “VIP” customers If the above tactics failed, the sales engineer would normally cite the impressive supply record of the product as “proof” that it worked. With an impressive list of VIP users, probably in the hundreds, the layperson and professional can be easily persuaded to purchase the product without many questions. VIP users in the country include most, if not all, of the royal palaces and government ministry buildings in the capital. However, the most convincing VIP user of them all is SIRIM. By openly displaying the non-standard LPS on some of their buildings, SIRIM had given these products the veiled “approval” that the vendors desperately needed. 9. Denial of ESE status This desperate tactic was made by several ESE manufacturers and sales engineers in recent years in order to mislead the potential customer. After many years of promoting their product with the acronym “ESE” attached to their product brand name, some of the manufacturers had removed the offending acronym from their new brochures that appeared since the NFPA rejected the ESE again in 2000. They have now substituted the acronym with other acronyms that gave their air terminals an air of “advanced” technology. 10. Blame Game This tactic has been used by the manufacturers when they are confronted with evidence of failures during international conferences and meetings. The manufacturers will normally put the blame for the failure on their local vendors, such as for not understanding the correct design method or for incorrectly installing the non-standard system. However, when the matter was referred to the local vendors later, some of the sales engineers defended themselves by saying that the design was made by the manufacturers since this design was done by software which only the
54

Malaysian Institute of Nuclear Technology.

64

manufacturers had. Alternatively, sales engineers might put the blame on a third party who did the installation. 11. Poor quality construction material Most lightning strike damages do not have burnt marks on them. The sales engineer would put the blame for the lightning strike damages on the quality of cement used in the making of the roof structure. However, they were unable to cite any report made by the construction industry or by expert civil engineers to support their claim. (They were also reluctant to put their allegations in writing when challenged to do so, perhaps out of fear of being ridiculed by the civil and construction engineering community.) 12. Building defects Some lightning strike damages (a.k.a. bypasses) occur during a period of heavy rain or at night and this event usually go un-noticed by the building owner if the debris did not cause any secondary damages. Since the customer had no clues as to what had caused the damages at the roof, the sales engineer had taken that opportunity to deny that the building had been struck by lightning and put the blame on simple building defects.

The Villa Putri apartment building in Kuala Lumpur was damaged (arrowed) by lightning at 7 different places on the roof. In spite of this building being a subject in a conference paper in 2000, the sales engineer still informed the building manager in 2002 that the building was free from lightning strike damages. One of the two Australian ESE air terminals can be seen above (circled).

65

The report submitted by the sales engineer in 2002 that show that the Villa Putri building was free from bypasses (circled) even though it had seven such bypasses since 2000.

For example, the Villa Putri apartment building had been struck by lightning several times since it was completed in 1995. This building had been the subject of a scientific paper published in 2000 and was known to both the ESE manufacturer and local vendor. However, the sales engineer had succeeded in assuring the customer that the damages were nothing more than building defects and that the ESE air terminals were functioning normally. In 2002, the customer was still receiving reports from the ESE vendor that indicated no bypasses had occurred. 13. Discrediting scientific works This method was carried out by the sales engineers around 1998 when UMIST published a high voltage test report that discredited the ESE air terminal. The sales engineers alleged that the experiment was rigged by the academics and that resulted in the ESE air terminal performing poorer than the Franklin rod. However, such tactics failed as other universities and laboratories obtained similar results that discredit the claims made for the ESE air terminals. Earlier in 1995, the ESE vendors also attempted to discredit our photographs which had been submitted to CIGRE. They had alleged that the buildings had been struck by lightning before the ESE air terminals were installed. However, western academics had defended our photographs since

66

they were familiar with the subject. In 1999, we submitted the “before” and “after” event photographs in our report55 to the NFPA to show indisputable proof that the ESE air terminals had failed to protect the buildings they were installed on. Similar attempts were made to discredit our photographs since 1993 and they were more successful at this with the local populace.

A letter from Professor Darveniza that mentioned of the attempt to discredit our photographs by ESE vendors.

Hartono, Z. A., and Robiah, I., “A Long Term Study on the Performance of Early Streamer Emission Air Terminals in a High Isokeraunic Region”, Report submitted to the Third Party Independent Evaluation Panel on the Early Streamer Emission Lightning Protection Technology, National Fire Protection Association (USA), February 1999

55

67

Appendix 4: Recent example of a lightning strike to a school We have studied many incidences of lightning strikes to schools and other educational institutions over the last ten years. The study shows that when the standard LPS had been designed and installed properly i.e. when many conventional air terminals have been installed on the roof, the damage to the roof is minimal. However, when the system had not been designed or installed correctly, the damage is more severe. Since the un-conventional air terminal is only installed at the centre of the roof, the edges of the roof are regarded as unprotected. Hence the damage is usually severe when lightning struck these parts. The un-conventional air terminal had been used in the universities since the 1970s but they have recently appeared in the schools, junior colleges and matriculation colleges within the last few years. We have alerted this matter in the media in 2001 but it seemed that it had been ignored since more new schools have been installed with these non-standard systems since then. The incident at the school in Subang Jaya in August 2002 is proof that the un-conventional air terminal is unproven. More incidences of this kind can be expected in the future and may probably cause more losses than just a fire.

Part of our letter that appeared in the New Straits Time on 24th August 2001, a year before the lightning incident at the Subang Jaya school occurred.

68

The New Straits Time article of the lightning incident, dated 26th August 2002.

69

An external view of the lightning damaged hostel of the religious school in Subang Jaya. If the lightning had struck on an occupied dormitory room a few hours later, the possibility of injuries (and even deaths) among the students could not be avoided.

A French-made ESE air terminal (circled) was installed on the roof of the adjacent building (Asrama A) which is about 20m from the lightning strike damage. According to the vendor’s product description, this device provides coverage of about 50m radius i.e. to “protect” both blocks A and B. This failure is just another example that the sophisticated lightning protection system does not work.

70

Lightning damage poser: Can you imagine what will be the consequence to schoolchildren if lightning were to strike on an occupied classroom where the building is unprotected or under-protected? A hint of the consequence is given by two separate media reports below of the same house struck by lightning in 1996.

71

Appendix 5: The UTM book “Kilat dan Perlindungan” The above book was published in 1998 and contained several misleading statements from the technical and policy standpoint. These statements, if not corrected, will lead the reader to select the wrong type of lightning protection system and consequently endanger the structure it was meant to protect. The most serious misleading statements mentioned in the book are as follows: • • • That the conventional air terminal had been de-recognised by most of the standards organisations. That the use of the conventional air terminal will increase the frequency of lightning strikes to the buildings. That the unconventional air terminals are recent advancements in lightning protection methodology

A5.1 De-recognition of the conventional air terminal and its effect on the frequency of lightning strikes The statement to the above effect is found in Section 4.2.1 of the book that concerned (conventional) lightning rod concept and reads as follows: “Namun demikian, cara ini tidak lagi diperakui oleh kebanyakan pihak pempiawaian perlindungan kilat kerana prinsip perlindungannya akan menyebabkan sesuatu system yang perlu dilindungi lebih kerap dipanah kilat.” The translation of the above statement is as follows: “Nevertheless, this method is no longer recognised by most lightning protection standards since this protection principle will result in the system to be protected to be struck more frequently by lightning.”

Partial excerpts of Section 4.2.1 of the book “Kilat dan Perlindungan”. The above phrase that alleged that the conventional lightning rod is no longer recognised by most lightning protection standards is false since no standards organisation had de-recognised the conventional air terminal at that time.

72

The succeeding phrase that alleged that the principle of the conventional lightning rod will increase the frequency of lightning strikes is also false since there is no scientific basis to substantiate this allegation. The author of the book is believed to have been influenced by the work of Roy Carpenter, the inventor of the DAS lightning elimination air terminal who made similar allegations about the Franklin rod system in the USA. Although Carpenter had sold hundreds of the DAS systems worldwide over the past 30 years, he still does not have the scientific basis for his product or the hard evidence to show that they really worked. A5.2 Unconventional air terminals as recent advancements of lightning protection methodology The statement to the above effect is found in Section 4.3 of the book with the title “Advancements in lightning protection systems”.

The translation of the above section is as follows: “Various types of lightning rods have been introduced in the world market. However, they are still categorised under improvement or prevention. Two types of lightning rods that will be described are the Dissipative Array System and the Pulsar.” The author of the book had alleged that the DAS (a lightning prevention air terminal) and the Pulsar (an ESE air terminal) are “advancements” in lightning protection methods when, in actual fact, these terminals had already been disproved scientifically in 1975 and 1995 respectively. It is interesting to note that the description of the working principles of the above air terminals made in the book seemed to have been taken from their manufacturers’ “research papers” and product brochures. These working principles have no scientific basis at all and are meant to dupe gullible laypersons who have no scientific and technical background in lightning protection. The reproduction of the working principles of the DAS and Pulsar air terminals by the author, a professor of electrical engineering, has seriously put his understanding of the basic principles of lightning protection in doubt.

73

A5.3 Concealment of information detrimental to the non-standard LPS The author of the book had also concealed information that is detrimental to the DAS and ESE air terminals. Although he had made a reference to a book on lightning by a highly acclaimed scientist56, the author had not mentioned excerpts from the book about the DAS air terminal that show that it had been a failure in preventing lightning strikes.

Excerpts from pages 568 and 569 of the 1977 book on lightning by Golde that show that the DAS system had failed to prevent lightning strikes when scientifically studied by scientists. This concealment of facts is the kind of “half-truths” that is prevalent in the non-standard LPS industry that seemed to have been exercised by the author in his book on lightning protection. Therefore it is very obvious that the author had the intention to suppress the conventional LPS and promote the unconventional LPS by publishing the book.

56

“Lightning (Vol. 2: Lightning Protection)” by R. H. Golde, 1977

74

Appendix 6: The report to SIRIM and IEM dated 14 July 2000. The following is the full text of the report that we submitted to SIRIM and IEM in order to enlighten them about the real status of the ESE air terminal system. A letter that was sent to SIRIM was copied to a local ESE vendor by one of their staff. The content of this report can be verified by the persons named in the letter:
14th July, 2000 Mr. Rajinder Raj General Manager Standards Development Section SIRIM Berhad Mr. Tan Chian Khai Chairman Electrical Engineering Technical Division Institution of Engineers, Malaysia Dear Sirs, A Recommendation to Ban the Sale and Usage of the Non-Conventional Lightning Protection System (Radioactive/Lightning Eliminating/ESE) in the Interest of National and Public Safety. I am writing this letter in the hope that the real situation surrounding the controversial non-conventional lightning protection system that are widely used in this country can be better understood, and therefore IEM and/or SIRIM can take the initiative to stop their sale and usage in this country in the interest of public safety. My reason for doing this is because the usage of the system, which had been and are still being sold under various brand names and proprietary technologies, bring no benefit at all to the end users and the public at large in terms of safety from direct lightning strikes. Instead, the use of these systems have resulted in many buildings and telecommunication systems being damaged by lightning since these facilities are considered as under-protected if they were evaluated by the existing national and international standards on lightning protection (eg. MS939, BS6651, IEC-61024, NFPA780 etc.). Many independent scientific studies have been conducted on the non-conventional lightning protection technologies. The most recent non-conventional lightning protection technology is the one known as the Early Streamer Emission (ESE) technology. Not one of the studies conducted so far has shown that the ESE technology is capable of providing the enhanced protection that their vendors have been proclaiming. The ESE technology had also been studied and officially declared as unscientific and unproven by several international scientific/technical bodies since 1995. They are the International Conference on High Voltage and High Current (CIGRE), the International Electro-technical Commission (IEC) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) International of the USA. The NFPA carried out a second comprehensive study of the ESE technology in early 1999 that was participated by many lightning experts and researchers from around the world. Even the International Conference on Lightning Protection (ICLP), the

75

scientific body that is concerned with lightning and lightning protection studies, gave an official statement to disregard the ESE technology to the NFPA. The 1999 NFPA study is considered as one of the most comprehensive study ever made on the ESE technology that is widely sold around the world, including Malaysia. Once again the NFPA concluded that the ESE technology is unproven and this was revealed in the recent decision made public by the NFPA Standards Council in May 2000. As you can see, the western standards bodies are very concerned about lightning safety and they took the effort to study the non-conventional lightning protection technology seriously in order to ensure the safety of the public and property. I strongly recommend that we do the same here since this country have up to ten (10) times more lightning activity than in some countries in the west. Although we have the Malaysian Standard MS939 and British Standard BS6651to refer to, many of our engineers now seemed to have ignored these standards in favour of the unproven ESE technology. I believe that this is not right and that these engineers have been deceived by the unfounded claims made by the ESE vendors. Prior to 1995, many of these vendors have claimed that their non-conventional lightning protection devices are of the ESE technology or that the devices complied with the proposed NFPA standard (NFPA781) that was specially drafted for the ESE technology. Since 1999, many of these vendors have begun retracting their claims of being ESE compliant or to distance themselves from the proposed NFPA781 standard (that was never ratified) and have renamed their technology by other terms such as “active”, “dynamic” etc. in order to further mislead the end users. Lightning protection is about safety, of the public and their property. As engineering professionals, we are responsible to ensure that any engineering decisions we make will not endanger the public, their property or the environment. Lightning has the potential to cause death and damages, some with catastrophic consequences. Hence it is all the more important that our fellow engineers understand and strictly comply to the safety provisions found in the Malaysian Standard MS939 or the more up to date British Standard BS6651 and IEC-61024. I am very concerned that the 1995 decision made by the IEC, with respect to ESE lightning protection technology or those with similar claims, had not been acted upon by the authorities concerned effectively, if at all. This has resulted in the ESE lightning protection systems being promoted aggressively by the local vendors and it seemed that they were even being assisted by academics from a local university. In contrast, the relevant authorities in Singapore had acted swiftly to ban the ESE and other non-conventional lightning protection technologies in the interest of public safety and in preparation for the future electronic environment. This kind of affirmative action is also needed here since we have a slightly higher thunderstorm activity when compared with Singapore. To emphasise the above point, I am sure you know that the radioactive lightning protection technology had been banned by the government in 1989. If you look at some of the older buildings around you now, you can still see the radioactive lightning protection system being used more than ten years after the ban was issued i.e. as if no actual ban had taken place. Instead of being replaced by the conventional lightning protection system that is recommended by the MS939, BS6651 or IEC-61024 standards, some of these radioactive systems are now being replaced by the ESE or other equally non-effective non-conventional systems. This ridiculous state of affairs is happening because there seemed to be no effective enforcement of lightning protection standards at all by anyone.

76

I am aware that the Malaysian Standard MS939 is currently undergoing a review by a committee that was formed in 1998 and chaired by an academic from UTM. I am very concerned with the developments in this committee since I was recently informed by the committee chairman that the ESE technology is being considered for inclusion into the revised MS939! I am even more concerned now since recent events have shown that the committee chairman (and probably some or all members too) seemed to be totally unaware of the ESE studies carried out by CIGRE in 1995 and by the NFPA in 1995 and 1999. It may be that the ESE vendors are taking advantage of this situation to have the ESE technology included into the MS939, which will be in direct opposition to the IEC standard! For your information, my stand against the ESE technology is well known by UTM and the ESE vendors since 1993 when I participated in a public seminar on lightning protection. I believe this is one reason why I had been intentionally excluded from the MS939 committee when it was formed in 1998, even though I have the expertise on lightning and lightning protection that surpasses those of some of the other members. (It may interest you that SIRIM had accepted my application to participate in lightning related standards activities in 1995.) I have brought this matter up a few times with the chairman of the MS939 committee but it seemed that he is unwilling to accept neither my viewpoint nor the decisions made by CIGRE and IEC five years ago. I have reason to believe that his decision is strongly influenced by the close cooperation that the university had with one of the ESE vendors. (The chairman also happens to be an adviser in one of the local ESE company and that a number of the UTM staff had left the university to hold key positions in the same company.) Hence I strongly recommend that the non-conventional lightning protection system issue should be taken very seriously and that IEM and/or SIRIM should act swiftly to ban its sale and usage before any untoward incident occur. (It seemed strange to me that while our fellow engineers and scientists in the advanced western world and in Singapore have taken quick and affirmative action on this matter, no action seems to have been taken in this lightning prone country five years after the decision was made by IEC!) I am willing to provide more information and to participate in any discussion on this matter or give a talk on this issue if requested. Thank you for having read this letter and I hope some affirmative action will come out of this in the interest of public safety. Sincerely, Hartono Z. Abidin MIEEE Director/Consultant

77