Jakarta – The Nuclear Energy Regulatory Agency (Bapeten) has said that the radiation level in part of the Batan Indah housing complex in South Tangerang has returned to normal after radioactive material was discovered in an empty plot of land in the complex in February.
The radiation level returned to normal following a decontamination of the area by a joint team comprising personnel of Bapeten and the National Nuclear Agency (Batan).
"At the South Tangerang Mayor's Office, Bapeten issued a statement on the land's clearance status as a basis to guarantee that the land is safe for public use," Bapeten spokesperson Indra Gunawan said in a statement on Thursday.
Back in February, Bapeten and the National Police discovered radioactive material containing Caesium-137 and other isotopes in one of the houses in the Batan housing complex after detecting high radiation levels in the area during a routine check.
Indra said the radioactive materials had contaminated soil and vegetation, prompting the Batan-Bapeten joint team to begin a decontamination process that included dredging.The joint team also examined samples of vegetation, water and soils in addition to conducting whole-body counting – the measure of radioactivity within the human body – among residents.
"After a clean-up process of approximately 16 days, we continued with remediation efforts by backfilling and concreting, as well as cutting down the contaminated vegetation," Indra said as quoted by tempo.co.
To prevent future incidents, Bapeten issued a new safety protocol on permits for nuclear activities.
In March, the police named a Batan employee a suspect for the alleged possession of illegal radioactive substances. The employee was charged under articles 42 and 43 of the 1997 Nuclear Energy Law for illegally storing radioactive materials in a warehouse and faces two years' imprisonment. (mfp)