According to a research report on the Geological Institute website, Israel’s nuclear reactor facility which is located near Dimona is looking at possible alternative sites for the burial of radioactive waste. The sites in question are all located in the northeastern Negev area, and would be used to as additional sites in conjunction with the current disposal site that is currently operating near the plant.
Among the highly radioactive waste produced by the fission process that needs to be disposed of are the water used in the process, the clothing of personnel who come into contact with radioactive material that is also contaminated, and radioactive residue from medical uses, such as syringes used to inject material used in diagnostic procedures. One of the issues with radioactive waste is that it does not decay for tens of thousands of years. Another problem with finding an appropriate burial site is the geological impact that the waste may have on the area.
According to foreign sources, Israel produces plutonium at the Dimona facility, which is the most radiological substance known in nature.
Science has not yet found a solution to radioactive waste other than burying it, usually in barrels in the ground. But even this is only a partial solution because the burial sites are full of the dangerous material and the extent of damage to the environment is unclear.
As reported by Haaretz, the Atomic Energy Commission is responsible for burying all radioactive material in Israel. The waste is collected at the Dimona facility, packed in barrels and currently is buried near the compound. According to the report the commission follows very specific disposal protocols set by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
According to the Geological Institute website, locations are being checked that match the geological requirements needed to store the waste for long periods of time. These criteria include places where the ground is geologically stable and less likely to sustain earthquakes, locations where groundwater flow is not extensive and where the geochemical conditions can help neutralize any spills or contamination.
The research report proposes that another future report should examine specific scenarios for burial at the potential sites listed in the current report. “A detailed study will allow all the information to be presented to the public, which is usually not enthusiastic to approve projects like this in its backyard. Meeting accepted international protocols during the general analysis of the site will be a major advantage. Community involvement at each important decision-making juncture will allow for cooperation in the final decision,” the report states.
The Dimona facility denied that it requisitioned the burial site report. According to the facility “burial is executed according to strict international rules and regulations, only in the area of the Negev Nuclear Research Center. There is no change in this policy and there is no work on finding sites outside the center. In the natural course of things, the center is a focus of knowledge and researchers from the center are partners in outside studies by academic institutions and other bodies.”