Saturday, March 26, 2011


     Jakarta, March 26, 2011 (ANTARA) - President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono last Thursday (March 24) chaired a plenary cabinet meeting to discuss the impacts of Japan`s Fukushima nuclear radiation on Indonesia.
      The meeting decided to tighten food imports from Japan by compelling the Japanese government to issue radiation-free certificates for food to be exported to Indonesia, Health Minister Endang Rahayu Sedyaningsih said following the cabinet meeting, as reported by Pikiran Rakyat Online.
      President Yudhoyono at the meeting instructed all concerned officials to inform the public about the facts of the Fukushima nuclear radiation impacts in order to make them understand and not to worry.
       He was reportedly upset by rumors sent via short messages which tried to scare the public about the nuclear radiation impacts.
      "Stay cautious but don`t be scared following the baseless information," the president told the Indonesian people about the radiation impacts and the rumors.
       Following the meltdowns of one of the Fukushima nuclear reactors due to the magnitude-9 earthquake devastating Japan`s eastern coast regions last March 11, some countries like the United States, Hong Kong, Russia, Australia, Taiwan, and Singapore have restricted food imports from Japan, especially from the affected regions.
       AFP report recently that Japan`s Prime Minister Naoto Kan on Wednesday (March 23) ordered two prefectures affected by radiation leaks from the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant to stop shipping a range of farm products.

As for possible impacts on Indonesia, Marine and Fishery Affairs Minister Fadel Muhammad has assured that the Indonesian waters is safe from the Fukushima nuclear radiation.

Rumors that fish in Indonesian waters was contaminated by the nuclear radiation from Japan was totally not true, Minister Fadel said in Jakarta, last Wednesday.

The distance between Indonesia and Fukhusima was quite far, he said, adding that besides, the nuclear reactor disaster in Fukushima was predicted to be smaller than that of Chernobyl in 1986.

To convince the public, the marine and fishery ministry for the time being will stop the entry of marine and fishery products from Japan to Indonesia, according to Fadel.

For anticipation of unwanted health risks, Health Minister Endang R Sedyaningsih in Bali last Saturday (March 19), said all Indonesians who have returned home from Japan would be examined to ensure that they were free from nuclear radiation.

"I think the examination is important. Indonesian officials and citizens will be tested with special equipment before departing to Japan and on their return in Jakarta," she said.

The Indonesian Nuclear Supervisory Agency (BAPETEN) have also conducted a scanning test for Indonesians in Japan who would return home.

Head of BAPETEN DR. As Natio Lasman said 174 Indonesian who arrived at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport from Japan on March 15 were free from radiation leak of the country`s damaged nuclear power plant.

He said in Jakarta on March 18 that they were "negative" from being affected by the radiation leak.

"The scanning results of 174 evacuees have shown that they are all not contaminated by radiation substances as we have previously expected," he said.

Besides holding a scanning examination, the BAPETEN authorities had also started observing the air quality of northern parts of Indonesia to ensure that it was free from the radiation.

The Indonesian foreign ministry has also been quick in reacting to the nuclear reactor meltdowns by immediately evacuating 15 Indonesian citizens to Tokyo from Fukushima.

"I have received confirmation that 15 Indonesian citizens have been evacuated from Fukushima to Tokyo," Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said recently, adding that the evacuees had been immediately taken to a hospital in Tokyo for medical checkups.

Marty said a total of 109 Indonesian nationals had been evacuated from Japan to Indonesia few days after the disaster.

In the first cabinet meeting discussing the impacts of the Fukushima nuclear radiation, in Jakarta, on March 17, President Yudhoyono had already asked the Indonesian embassy in Tokyo to prepare anticipatory measures in case the Japanese government extends its danger zone.

"I have asked for assessment to be continuously updated and evacuation plans made like when evacuating people during Merapi eruptions," the head of state said.

"If the zone is extended to 100 kilometers we must evacuate up to 4,000 nationals. So prepare a contingency plan. Keep managing it," he said.

An Indonesian humanitarian and relief aid team sent to Japan on March 17, had also been told to stay away from the nuclear radiation zone.

Coordinating Minister for People`s Welfare Agung Laksono, when seeing off the rescue team in Jakarta on March 17, said "I have asked the Indonesian humanitarian and relief aid team to avoid the nuclear radiation zone, a radius of about 30 kilometers from the leaking atomic reactor."

Much earlier on March 15, Chief of BAPETEN DR. As Natio Lasman had assured that radiation from Japan`s nuclear plant in Fukushima would not reach Indonesia.

"According to data, the wind around Fukushima will likely blow to the north and west of the area not to the south where Indonesia is located," Lasman said in Jakarta.

As to a possibility that the acid used in the nuclear plant will flow to the clouds and turn into acid rain, he said the power of the acid was weak, even weaker than nitrate or sulfate.

However, BAPETEN planned to send personnel to conduct an observation in the areas like Manado (North Sulawesi) that might experience the impact of acid rain.

(t. f001/A/HAJM/13:00/f001)

(T.F001/A/F001/F001) 26-03-2011 14:21:18

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