From left, South Tangerang Mayor Airin Rachmi Diany, Batan head Anhar Riza, Research and Technology Minister Bambang Brodjonegoro and Bapeten head Jazi Eko at a press conference in Jakarta on Tuesday. (JG Photo/Jayanty Nada Shofa)

Gov't Investigates Possible Radioactive Dumping in South Tangerang


FEBRUARY 18, 2020

JakartaResearch and Technology Minister Bambang Brodjonegoro said in a press conference at his office in Jakarta on Tuesday that radiation detected inside a housing complex in South Tangerang at the weekend was not caused by a leak from the nearby Siwabessy nuclear reactor but by unauthorized radioactive waste disposal. 

The minister said officials from the National Nuclear Agency (Batan) and the Nuclear Energy Regulatory Agency (Bapeten) immediately commenced decontamination operation after the radiation was detected on a vacant patch of land in the Batan Indah housing complex.

"It wasn't a leak, but a problem with radioactive waste disposal. Batan and Bapeten are closely monitoring the removal of the contaminated soil," Bambang said.

The nuclear agencies have placed nine radiation detectors in the housing complex and none of them had again detected any sign of the radioactive substance Cesium-137.

"The detectors did not pick up any sign of a leak. It was only later that a mobile detector discovered quite a high radiation level in a dumpster," Bapeten head Jazi Eko Istiyanto said.

Nine residents at the complex have undergone whole-body counting – a procedure used to detect radiation within the human body. These residents are currently being quarantined at a Batan facility in Cilandak, South Jakarta.

"We can't say when the whole-body counting will be completed as an incident like this is very rare," Batan head Anhar Riza said.

The decontamination operation has significantly decreased the radiation level in the affected area from 140 microsieverts per hour to 28 microsieverts by Monday.

The exposure radius has also been reduced from 100 square meters to 30 square meters.

The nuclear agencies are working with the police to investigate 14,000 nuclear management license holders who might have dumped radioactive waste in the area.