Jakarta, Indonesia, 16 February 2020 – The latest discovery of nuclear radiation that exceeds the national safety limit in Batan Indah Housing Complex in Indonesia proves that the country’s current radioactive waste handling is done haphazardly and not in accordance with existing national government rules, bringing very dangerous risks to the community.

The radioactive debris detected by The Nuclear Energy Regulatory Agency (BAPETEN) several days ago inside the housing complex was 680 microSv per hour and contained Cesium 137 (Cs-137). The national safety limit for nuclear radiation is 0.03 microSv per hour.

Hindun Mulaika, Greenpeace Indonesia’s Climate and Energy Campaigner said:

“A thorough investigation must be carried out on how radioactive waste was able to infiltrate a densely populated housing area. Cs-137 is a very dangerous substance, and could potentially be deadly. It is easily oxidized and soluble in water, and in the form of powder, it can be easily inhaled by the public.

This incident is a bad precedent for the government and Indonesia Nuclear Energy Agency (BATAN), which failed to maintain public safety from the dangers of radioactive waste.”

Although the origin of the radioactive waste has not yet been confirmed, BATAN – which is currently operating a nuclear reactor only less than 5km away from the residential area of Batan Indah Housing Complex – must also conduct internal investigations related to the applied nuclear waste handling system. At the moment, there is no credible solution for safe, long-term disposal of nuclear waste.

“If the radioactive waste had been in the housing complex for a long time, the community would have been directly and continuously exposed to the radiation for just as long, and without the slightest use of protection,” added Hindun.

Nuclear power should not be Indonesia’s future energy choice. Yet, the government is currently actively promoting the use of nuclear in the energy sector through the New and Renewable Energy Law Plan and the Omnibus Law Cipta Karya Draft Bill. The Cipta Karya Draft Bill also proposes that nuclear licensing be granted solely by the central government.

Nuclear power plants are also very expensive. Referring to Lazard 2019 data, the capital cost of a nuclear power plant construction can reach up to US$ 12,250 / kW, whereas renewable energy – both wind and solar – has reached grid parity in many countries around the world.

“The Indonesian government must start thinking realistically and focus on investing in renewable energy that is safer, cheaper, and cleaner for the country and its future,” Hindun concluded.

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Contact

Hindun Mulaika, Climate and Energy Campaigner, hmulaika@greenpeace.org, +62 8118407113

Deby Natalia, Media Campaigner, dnatalia@greenpeace.org, +62 8111928315