Gardi Gazarin, Jakarta – An employee of the National Nuclear Energy Agency, or Batan, was named suspect for illegally storing radioactive waste at his home in Batan Indah housing complex in South Tangerang, Banten, police have said.
The news came a month after nuclear authorities launched decontamination operation at the housing complex, followed by criminal investigation by the National Police.The cleanup, that took weeks to complete, was called after the Batan and the Nuclear Energy Regulatory Agency (Bapeten) detected radiation in the area. Around 100 drums of soil and grass containing radioactive substance have been removed from the area.The suspect, identified by initials S.M., is accused of storing radioactive substance called Cesium-137 and dumping toxic waste at the housing complex, National Police's special crimes director Brig. Gen. Agung Budijono said on Friday.
"We named S.M. as suspect after we conducted the crime scene investigation," Agung told Jakarta Globe's sister publication Beritasatu.com.
"At least 26 witnesses, including Batan and Bapeten officials, have been questioned by the police and it was learned that S.M. has no license for storing and processing radioactive waste," he said.
The suspect is alleged to have run illegal decontamination services for money at his home. He is charged under the 1997 law on nuclear energy, which carries a sentence of up to two years' imprisonment. His position at Batan was not disclosed.
A joint investigation involving Batan, Bapeten and police was formed last month after radiation was detected and nine resident had to undergo medical examination for fear of exposure to Cesium-137, which may pose serious risks to human health including cancer and death.
Nuclear agencies ban companies who hold license to use Cesium-137 from storing or managing radioactive waste themselves. They must send it to Batan's Center for Radioactive Waste Technology in South Tangerang.
The Batan facility is located around 45 kilometers from the housing complex.