Nuclear agency: Don’t panic

The National Nuclear Energy Agency (Batan) has asked residents of the Batan Indah housing complex in South Tangerang, Banten, to remain calm after finding high levels of radiation within the complex.

Agency spokesman Heru Umbara said locals should not panic because the case was being handled by the relevant authorities.

“Residents can carry out activities as usual, as long as they do not enter the area that has been marked as contaminated.

“If managed properly, exposure to this radiation will not endanger the residents, ” Heru said in a statement on Saturday.

The Nuclear Energy Regulatory Agency (Bapeten) first detected the radiation during a routine check meant to ensure that the agency’s mobile radiation detection unit was working properly.

“From Jan 30 to 31, Bapeten conducted a function test with target areas of Pamulang, the Puspiptek (Centre for Science and Technology Research) housing complex, the Muncul area, the ITI (Indonesia Institute of Technology) campus, the Batan Indah housing complex and the Serpong train station, ” Bapeten spokesman Indra Gunawan said in a statement on Friday.

He said that 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.

“A joint Bapeten and Batan team conducted a search to find the source of the high radiation on Feb 7 to 8 and found several radioactive fragments, ” he said, adding that after the fragments were removed, tests showed that the radiation levels in the area had decreased but were still above normal levels.

“Based on those results, we concluded that the contamination had spread in the area and decontamination efforts had to be conducted by removing or dredging contaminated soil and removing contaminated trees and other vegetation.”

Bapeten spokesman Abdul Qohhar Teguh said that the agency was not yet able to confirm the source of the radioactive fragments found in the area.

“For the time being, we have not focused on investigating the location of the source, where it came from, why it was there, who brought it.

“At the moment the joint team is still focusing on clearing the scene, ” Qohhar said on Saturday.

He added, however, that the team’s initial findings indicated that the radiation did not come from a nuclear reactor leak.

The Puspiptek building, which is located about 3km away from the Batan Indah complex, houses several small reactors used for experimental purposes. — The Jakarta Post/ANN

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