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Shut Dimona nuclear reactor, urges founding scientist via The Times of Israel

Aging facility ‘may be world’s oldest reactor,’ says Uzi Even, after 1,537 defects found at aluminum core; says Israel couldn’t build new one without international help

A scientist who was among the founders of the Dimona nuclear reactor on Tuesday said the 53-year-old facility should be shuttered for safety reasons, after a report detailed over 1,500 problems with the aging plant.

Dr. Uzi Even, a former Meretz party member, was responding to a report that said breakthrough ultrasound testing has revealed 1,537 defects and flaws at the aluminum core in Israel’s nuclear facility situated near the southern city.

Scientists who studied the aging nuclear reactor last year said that, for now, the defects don’t pose any immediate danger. The findings were released during a scientific forum held in Tel Aviv this month, Haaretz reported Tuesday, the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

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At the same time, he maintained that there had been no leaks from the reactor, as far as he knows, since it was built. The site is far smaller than those in Chernobyl or Fukashima, he said, and any fallout in the event of a leak would therefore be on a smaller scale. However, he said Israel ought to preemptively close down the site.

[…]

The Dimona core, which was provided by France in the 1950s and put into action in 1963, was intended to be operational for up to 40 years. But it has exceeded the intended time frame by over a decade, to the consternation of scientists at the site, the Haaretz report said.

When US diplomatic cables were leaked to the public as part of the WikiLeaks scandal, a telegram by the US Embassy revealed that in 2007 Prof. Eli Abramov, then deputy director general of the reactor, briefed senior Americans and told them the reactor’s systems were being changed.

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