Indonesian seaport gets new radiation sensor

The sensor is intended to uncover possible efforts to smuggle dangerous nuclear materials into the Southeast Asian country.

A key seaport in Indonesia on Wednesday formally began operating a large radiation scanner supplied through the International Atomic Energy Agency that is intended to uncover possible efforts to smuggle dangerous nuclear materials into the Southeast Asian country, the Jakarta Post reported (see GSN, April 3).

The radiation portal monitor was installed at the Belawan Seaport in Medan, North Sumatra, according to Asnatio Lasman, who leads the nation's Nuclear Energy Regulatory Agency.

The U.N. nuclear watchdog at a later date is to deliver radiation portal monitors for seaports in Semarang, Central Java; Makassar, South Sulawesi; and Manado, North Sulawesi.

\"This device was especially given to Indonesia as part of the IAEA’s program, which is sponsored by the European Union, to strengthen global nuclear safety,\" Asnatio said in an interview at the installation ceremony for the device.

Close to the Malacca Strait and other countries, Belawan is a crucial shipping way into Indonesia, Asnatio said.

The radiation portal monitor can pinpoint specific types of radioactive and nuclear materials through shipping box walls, he said. The sensor is advanced enough to detect very trace quantities of atomic substances.

In the event that atomic material is detected, the sensor would send an electronic message to a nuclear agency operation in Jakarta. The organization would then begin working with the Indonesian National Counterterrorism Agency and the National Intelligence Agency.

Asnatio said there is a strong chance that nuclear material smuggling is presently taking place.

Not long after the sensor was put in place at the Belawan shipping hub, it detected the presence of possibly dangerous radioactive materials in a cargo box, nuclear agency licensing and inspection official Martua Sinaga said.

\"We have yet to learn which goods have been flagged for containing radioactive substances as we just detected them,\" the official said (Apriadi Gunawan, Jakarta Post, July 19).

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