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Jakarta Post

Nuclear agency collects more samples in probe into irradiated area in Banten housing complex

  • Gemma Holliani Cahya and Rizki Fachriansyah

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Thu, February 20, 2020   /   12:09 pm
Nuclear agency collects more samples in probe into irradiated area in Banten housing complex Officers check radioactive exposure after taking samples of soil that had been exposed to radioactive substances at the Batan Indah housing complex, Serpong, South Tangerang, Banten, on Feb.16. (JP/Dhoni Setiawan )

The Nuclear Energy Regulatory Agency (Bapeten) has continued efforts to decontaminate an area exposed to high levels of radiation from radioactive Caesium-137 waste in the Batan Indah housing complex in South Tangerang, Banten.

Agency spokesperson Abdul Qohhar Teguh said authorities had collected more samples of soil and vegetation from the exposed area and sent them to the National Nuclear Agency’s Center for Radioactive Waste Technology (PLTR-BATAN) for further examination.

“We’ve collected 223 drums of soil and vegetation [during] the decontamination efforts as of [Wednesday] afternoon — all of which have been sent to PLTR-BATAN,” Abdul said on Wednesday evening. 

He said the agency would continue to measure radiation levels and collect soil samples on Thursday. Meanwhile, the decontamination efforts would be postponed until the agency had received the results of the sample examination from PLTR-BATAN, he said.

It was previously reported that Bapeten first detected the radiation during a routine check in the residential area to ensure that the agency’s mobile radiation detection unit was working properly.

All of the areas showed normal radiation levels, except for a vacant lot next to the volleyball court at Block J of the Batan Indah complex.

The agency revealed on Sunday that it had found highly radioactive Caesium-137 materials as the source of radiation in the area. The cause of the incident remains unclear, however, authorities have said that the Caesium-137 did not come from a nuclear reactor leak but rather industrial sources.

The Center for Science and Technology Research (Puspitek)  building, which is located about 5 kilometers away from the Batan Indah complex, houses several small reactors used for experimental purposes. 

Abdul went on to say that a police investigation was under way to determine the party that had dumped radioactive waste in the area.

“We’re still awaiting the investigation. Police have started an investigation, while Bapeten has begun collecting information on known users of Caesium-137 across Indonesia,” he said.