A radioactive substance called Caesium-137 has recently been found in Batan Indah housing estate in South Tangerang. The discovery of radiation from this radioactive substance came from findings based on the Nuclear Power Regulator’s (Bapeten) test within the South Tangerang areas of Pamulang, Puspiptek official housing, Muncul area, ITI campus, Batan Indah housing estate, and Serpong train station on the 30th and 31st January 2020.
In general, the value of exposure to environmental radiation in those monitoring areas showed a normal value except for the Batan Indah housing estate in Serpong, which showed an increased value of radiation exposure in an empty land area next to the Block J volleyball court.
A nuclear and physical engineering professor at Gadjah Mada University (UGM), Agus Budhie Wijatna, said Caesium-137 is a radioactive element which, according to him, was produced from the by-product of the nuclear reactor in Serpong.
“It is relatively small and it is background radiation of the primordial element Uranium-238,” said Agus. He also claimed to be confused as to how Caesium-137 could be scattered in a housing estate since Bapeten normally conducts periodic checks around sectors and detects leakages.
“It is very unlikely that Caesium-137 has been derived from a reactor leakage because the nuclear reactors are periodically inspected by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) too,” Agus explained.
Caesium-137 is dangerous due to its half-life – the age that causes the contamination level to decline to half – of 30 years. “If it’s now measured at 100 microsievert, then it will be 50 microsieverts after 30 years,” explained Agus.
Nevertheless, Bapeten has taken the samples of soil exposed by the fragments of Caesium-137. Under the provisions of the IAEA, all radiology units and the utilisation of nuclear power must use administrative boundaries. If a person is exposed to a dose of one microsievert, it will not have any biological effect, whereas if the biological boundary is exceeded, it will have a clinical effect.
On the other hand, Caesium-137, according to Agus, is usually used for health and industrial factors. “It’s usually used in hospitals to kill cancer, but with high doses and very high radiation levels,” said Agus.
Agus also explained that Caesium-137 acts similarly to an x-ray photo; being used for destructive testing such as to determine whether a pipe is porous or not, whether a concrete building frame uses the diameter of the concrete as stated, and so on.
Image: DI’s Way