Nuclear scientist warns on Dimona plant

Prof. Uzi Even: The technology in the Dimona reactor and the reactors in Japan is similar, and over 40 years old.

Prof. Uzi Even, a former top official at the Nuclear Research Center in Dimona, today warned that the reactor is aging and possible damage to its cooling system could result in a breakdown with far-reaching consequences.

Even noted that the technology in the Dimona reactor and the reactors in Japan was similar. "The reactors were built about the same time, 40-50 years ago. In principle, the planning of the reactors is similar. The soft underbelly is the cooling system, which must be operated with great force, even after the reactor is turned out. If there is a breakdown in the cooling system, it will cause the core to collapse. That's what happened at the Japanese reactors."

Despite the different natural conditions between the Negev Desert at Dimona and inJapan, Even warned that aging systems at Dimona and the lack of outside oversight on operations at the reactor posed a real threat of a serious breakdown. "While we don’t have tsunamis or such strong earthquakes, the chances of a breakdown in the cooling system, either by chance or deliberately, are very great. Our reactor is 50 years old, far older than what is permitted to operate in other countries."

Israel's security situation poses a major threat of nuclear disaster. "Another factor here, which is absent in Japan, is the possibility of deliberate sabotage of the reactor's cooling system. We have enough crazies who wouldn’t hesitate to do it if they could," says Even.

However, Even points out that the small size of the Dimona reactor - far smaller than the reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station - would result in far less radioactive emissions in the event of a breakdown than what has happened in Japan.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - - on March 17, 2011

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2011

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