Coverup At Israeli Nuclear Plant At Dimona

Testimony in nuclear plant damages case hints to cover-up

By Naama Cohen-Friedman

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Safety engineer tells court employees at Dimona nuclear facility underwent ‘superficial, inadequate radiation exposure tests’

Workers at the Negev Nuclear Research Center underwent superficial and inadequate radiation exposure tests, an expert on radiation safety told the Petah Tikvah District Court on Monday.

Dr. Dan Litai testimony came during a court hearing in a case meant to determine whether former employees of the institute, located in southern Israel, should be recognized as the victims of work-related accidents after they were diagnosed with cancer.

Dr. Litai, who served as a radiation safety engineer at the Negev Nuclear Research Center, claimed that until the late 1990s there was no department tasked with calculating and assessing the levels of internal radiation contamination, only external contamination.

Radiation that is inhaled or swallowed can be tested in a urinalysis, unlike external radiation that is determined by special tags that are affixed to the worker’s safety gear.

“Only if the employee’s external radiation levels were irregular, we would run further testing. Looking back, this is something we should have done, but we didn’t,” said Dr. Litai.

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Last week, the court heard the testimony of Dr. Thelma Byrne, who headed the radiation safety department at the Soreq center.

“I worked with materials whose nature was unknown. They didn’t tell us what we were exposed to,” she said, adding that the cancer victims could have been spared if they would have undergone preventative radiation exposure tests, but such tests were not given.

The damages suit was submitted by 44 employees of the Dimona-based reactor and the Soreq Nuclear Research Center in the mid 1990s. Some members of the plaintiff have since died.

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