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Jakarta Post

Batan employee identified as owner of radioactive substances found in South Tangerang house

  • News Desk

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Sun, March 1, 2020   /   10:25 am
Batan employee identified as owner of radioactive substances found in South Tangerang house National Nuclear Energy Agency (Batan) officers remove soil exposed to radioactive substances in the Batan Indah Housing in Serpong, South Tangerang, Banten on Feb. 2. (JP/Dhoni Setiawan )

The police have identified a National Nuclear Energy Agency (Batan) employee, identified as SM, as the owner of the illegally possessed radioactive substances recovered from a house in the Batan Indah housing complex in South Tangerang, Banten.

“He could be charged under articles 42 and 43 of Law No. 10/1997 on nuclear energy for illegally storing radioactive materials in his house, which carry a maximum punishment of two years’ imprisonment and a Rp 100 million [US$7,154] fine,” National Police spokesperson Sr. Comr. Asep Adi Saputra said on Friday, as quoted by Antara news agency.

The Batan employee remained a witness in the case as of Saturday. However, Asep said the police could still name him a suspect.

The law stipulates that a permit is required to use, possess or store radioactive substances.

A joint team from the Nuclear Energy Regulatory Agency (Bapeten) and the National Police discovered the radioactive substances, containing caesium-137 and other isotopes, in a house in the housing complex. Caesium-137 is commonly used for industrial purposes.

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

The team made the discovery after Bapeten first detected high levels of radiation in the Batan Indah complex during a routine check at the end of January. Between Feb. 7 and 8, a joint team from Bapeten and Batan found several radioactive fragments in a vacant lot next to a volleyball court in the housing complex.

The fragments also contained caesium-137.

Separately, Batan chairman Anhar Riza Antariksawan confirmed that SM was an employee of the agency.

“Batan does not allow employees to illegally keep any radioactive substance for personal interests,” Anhar said in a statement on Friday.

He added the nuclear agency had handed the case over to the police: “Batan fully supports the police’s investigation,” he said.

Read also: This company wants to build Indonesia’s first commercial nuclear power plant

As of Friday, Batan had secured 400 drums of contaminated soil and vegetation from the area around the vacant lot as part of its decontamination efforts, as reported by Antara. The agency recorded that the radiation exposure in the area had dropped significantly from 0.14 millisievert (mSv) per hour to 0.002 mSv per hour.

The International Committee on Radiological Protection recommends that people not be exposed to more than 20mSv per year.

The police are still looking for those responsible for dumping the radioactive fragment in the vacant lot. (hol)