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Jakarta Post

Two people living in South Tangerang exposed to radioactive waste: Nuclear agency

  • News Desk

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Sat, February 22, 2020   /   11:24 am
Two people living in South Tangerang exposed to radioactive waste: Nuclear agency Officers take a soil sample that is suspected to be contaminated with radioactive substances at the Batan Indah housing complex in South Tangerang, Banten, on Feb. 16. (JP/Dhoni Setiawan )

The Nuclear Energy Regulatory Agency (Bapeten) has reported that two people living in South Tangerang at the Batan Indah housing complex in Banten, where radioactive materials were recently found discarded, had tested positive for exposure to Caesium-137.

“Two out of nine people were exposed to Caesium-137 but the level was still under the limit, so the exposure won’t cause any bodily harm,” Bapeten chief secretary Hendriyanto Hadi Tjahyono said on Friday as reported by Antara news agency.

Hendriyanto said nine people had undergone a thorough examination, seven of whom were deemed clear, while two others had been exposed to the highest dosage level of 0.12 milli-sievert.

“The nine people were randomly selected. They are living in residential areas near the contaminated area,” he said.

He claimed that human beings could handle radiation of 1 milli-sievert per year, meaning that the two South Tangerang residents had been exposed to less than 10 percent of the dosage limit.

He also said that the exposure was so low that their levels of Potassium-40, a natural radioactive product present in all bodies, was five to 10 times higher than their exposure to Caesium-137.

Read also: ‘Don't panic’: Nuclear agency urges controlled reaction to radiation in South Tangerang housing complex

Hendriyanto said that although two people had been cleared, Bapeten would continue to monitor and reexamine them.

“The point is that they have experienced no problems but we will have to check on them in a month or two,” he said.

Bapeten discovered dangerous substances had been dumped in a vacant lot next to a volleyball court in the housing complex during its regular detection survey on Jan. 30- 31.

A week later, the agency found materials believed to be the source of the radiation in the lot and confirmed that the dangerous substance was the highly radioactive Caesium-137, which is commonly used for industrial purposes. 

The discovery generated allegations that the radioactive materials came from industrial sources and not the nearby nuclear reactor, as it angered energy and urban activists and experts who demanded that authorities conduct a thorough inspection on the reactor.

Hendriyanto said Bapeten and the National Police had been investigating to find those responsible for the waste disposal. “We fully support the criminal investigation,” he said. (syk)