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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Workers at Israel's Dimona nuclear reactor say leaks at plant gave them cancer

Published 01:01 15.12.11 Latest update 01:01 15.12.11

Former deputy head of Dimona's safety division tells hearing on complaint by 44 employees and their families: There have been mishaps since the day the facility was built.

By Gili Cohen

Workers at the Dimona nuclear reactor say they have been sickened during their work at the plant, revealing in court information on radiation leaks.

A hearing was held on Wednesday on the complaint by 44 employees and their families that the workers are suffering from cancer and other diseases due to radiation at work. Their attorney cited memos purportedly showing that safety problems led to the leak of radioactive substances.

Dimona nuclear research center - Reuters The nuclear research center in Dimona.
Photo by: Reuters
At Wednesday's hearing, the plaintiffs' lawyer quoted from a 1992 memo by a safety inspector that allegedly refers to radioactive material found in an area of the facility where it did not belong. The plaintiff's lawyer, Ilan Kaner, also said internal memos report the presence of dispersed radioactive matter.

The defense said the evidence should not be introduced, but Petah Tikva District Court Judge Esther Dudkiewicz said it was expected that state prosecutors would present documentation on safety incidents.

A witness for the defense, Dan Litai, a former deputy head of Dimona's safety division, was asked about an incident involving a radiation leak. He said he knew there had been radiation leaks including one near an area that was supposed to be relatively free of radioactive material.

He said there had been several cases of technical problems and it was not clear which he was being asked about. "Mishaps occur," Litai told the court. "There have been mishaps there since the day [the Dimona facility] was built, and I assume there still are."

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