Visiting Java’s atomic reactors


JAVA Island is not only famous for its exotic culture, people, and super metropolis cities but is also known for its history as well as research in nuclear energy and astronomy.
During a recent trip to Indonesia at the invitation of the Government of Indonesia I also had the privilege of being taken on a tour of an atomic reactor in Serpong in South Jakarta and also a tour of an astronomy observatory center in Lembang city, West Bandung.
The reactor is part of the nuclear research park, and rightly so, security was tight because of the center’s sensitivity which meant we had to go through three security barriers under closely monitored surveillance cameras and metal detectors. After clearing the third checkpoint we entered the building that housed the reactor to meet Nuclear Scientist Doctor Cahyana. At this point we were not allowed to take photos, which could only be taken by the reactor’s official photographer. Doctor Cahyana then gave us a background brief of the place. Among other things we learned that the reactor was completed in 1988, and he was one of the first engineers to work there.
Special coats, caps and shoe covers were donned by all visitors into the area to prevent radioactive contamination before entering the main reactor.
Pre- radiation checks are also made on visitors before they enter the reactor. After filing into the main reactor, Dr Cahyana gave a briefing on the operations of the reactor and how it produces isotopes.
“We are only allowed by the International Atomic Council (International Atomic Energy Agency) to produce Isotopes for health purposes and not for nuclear war. So we produce Isotopes to treat cancer in our hospitals. And all the wastes are shipped back to the United State and stored there which we don’t know where they store it. Also the waste is tested for the quantity of our isotope production and to check that our Isotope production is within the requirements of the Atomic Council.”
Upon completion of our visit, we had to undergo a de -radioactive test to clear us from any radiation.
Another visit we made was to the Bosscha Observatory in Lembang, West Bandung. The observatory was built in 1924 and completed in 1928 by a Dutch tea plantation owner Karel Albert Rudolf Bosscha.
Bosscha was also keen in astronomy and allowed the Dutch Colonial Government to build the Observatory on his plantation, atop a plateau. This observatory is now part of the facilities of the Bandung Institute of Technology and is popularly visited by students keen to see the galaxies and planets. Visitation is at 7pm in order to clearly see the galaxy.
Unfortunately for us, it rained heavily that night and the observatory’s dome could not be opened for us to see Jupiter.
Submarine Museum in Surabaya in East Java is another interesting place that I was fortunate to visit. This museum was built as a memorial to the brave fighters of Indonesia, and to conserve Indonesia’s Maritime history. The historic Surabaya city played a big role during the Indonesian revolution to remove the Dutch colonizers from the country. Surabaya is now the leading industrial city in Indonesia.
Touring the submarine KRI Pasopati gives visitors a firsthand feel of how life was like working and living in a submarine.
The sub was one of the first 10 donated by the former Soviet Union Government to Indonesia in 1962 after the country gained its Independence.
KRI Pasopati was involved in many daring missions during the move to remove the Dutch colonizers from Irian Jaya (now West Papua ). The submarine was decommissioned in 1990, and is now a historical museum.
While in Surabaya, we saw firsthand the disaster caused by the mud explosion in Sidoarjo district. The disaster caused most of the residents to flee the district which is now less populated than it was. It has become an informal tourist spot.
So many interesting places, so many interesting people, so much history and steeped in culture. Java certainly contributes to a greater and wonderful Indonesia.

International Atomic
Energy Agency
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is an international organization that seeks to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and to inhibit its use for any military purpose, including nuclear weapons. The IAEA was established as an autonomous organisation on July 29, 1957. Though established independently of the United Nations through its own international treaty, the IAEA Statute,[1] the IAEA reports to both the United Nations General Assembly and Security Council.
The IAEA has its headquarters in Vienna. The IAEA has two “Regional Safeguards Offices” which are located in Toronto, Canada, and in Tokyo, Japan. The IAEA also has two liaison offices which are located in New York City, United States, and in Geneva, Switzerland. In addition, the IAEA has three laboratories located in Vienna and Seibersdorf, Austria, and in Monaco.
The IAEA serves as an intergovernmental forum for scientific and technical co-operation in the peaceful use of nuclear technology and nuclear power worldwide. The programs of the IAEA encourage the development of the peaceful applications of nuclear technology, provide international safeguards against misuse of nuclear technology and nuclear materials, and promote nuclear safety (including radiation protection) and nuclear security standards and their implementation.
The IAEA and its former Director General, Mohamed ElBaradei, were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on 7 October 2005. The IAEA’s current Director General is Yukiya Amano.

  • Source; Wikipedia.