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Author Topic: Excess Radioactivity found in Negev Desert
DrConway
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posted 22 July 2004 03:12 AM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
High radioactivity recorded in Israel - Al Jazeera

quote:
Worringly high levels of radioactivity have been discovered in southern Israel's underground water table.

According to scientific research published on Wednesday, the soaring radioactivity levels measured in the Negev Desert and in the Arava valley are caused by natural radioactive elements such as uranium and radon gas.

But Professor Avner Vengosh, who co-authored the study by Ben Gurion University, dismissed any relation between the abnormal findings and the nearby nuclear plant of Dimona, also in southern Israel.


Poor radioactive-material handling procedures, and the use of liquid organics and aqueous substances to separate uranium's fissionable isotope from natural uranium, would seem to be the cause of this leakage into the Negev.

Quite dangerous, I would think, considering that heavy metals are not nice to the human biochemistry and any excess radioactivity ingested by a human above background could potentially result in cancer or even just increased risk of sickness.

This is partly the consequence of an obsessive siege-mentality atmosphere bent on secrecy at all costs. This hampers the effective communication that is required to rapidly contain and limit the damage caused by spills of radioactive material, as well as to develop proper procedures that ensure such safety standards are followed.

Clearly the Israeli government believed that attempts to develop safety protocols around the handling of liquid radioactive wastes would only lead to discovery of the truth about Dimona, and so felt that simply dumping the wastes and hoping nobody caught on would be better, in the name of "national security".


From: You shall not side with the great against the powerless. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
DrConway
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posted 09 August 2004 02:49 AM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Jordan has been monitoring since at least 1998, incidentally.
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DrConway
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posted 25 April 2005 07:42 PM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
His action is also important for another reason: for the first time, he has drawn the attention of the Israeli public to the real danger inherent in the old reactor, which is now more than 40 years old. Several former employees have now sued the government, claiming that they have contracted cancer (and some have died) because of safety failures. What will happen in the case of a Chernobyl-like disaster? Or an earthquake, or a missile strike? Who is thinking about this? Whose responsibility is it? Who oversees those responsible?

The above is from here. I think it is important that the Israeli government take all necessary steps now to prevent a disaster which could spread radioactive elements across the Middle East.

Something like this could easily provoke a general Middle East war, especially if the Israeli Government acts with insensitivity to the legitimate concerns of its Arab neighbors as to the extent of contamination.

I can remember when international feelings ran high over the Chernobyl incident because the Soviet authorities initially truculently denied everything (as was typical; why give anybody any information about the socialist motherland which they could use against her? ), and only later owned up.


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Bubbles
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posted 25 April 2005 11:39 PM      Profile for Bubbles        Edit/Delete Post
Some 25 years ago I used to collect lychen samples in the Canadian Arctic that were then analised in a lab (U of T I believe) for heavy metal contamination. I wonder if one could make a profile of the buildup of radioactive elements by doing an analises of slow growing plants in that part of Israel?

Thanks for digging up this stuff. It is about time that the realization sets in that it is next to impossible to hide these long lived radio active materials. Russia shot themself in the foot with that 'junk' and I suspect many more will follow.


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DrConway
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posted 26 April 2005 01:01 AM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Goddamn, I didn't even think of that. I wonder how fast someone could get a research grant to study this stuff.

If I had the money and a tourist visa I'd be over there in a shot with a plant biology & anatomy text.

The only thing you have to watch out for is something called the kinetic effect, where heavy metal uptake can be inversely proportional to the mass of the isotope under study due to the rate of diffusion through the cells of the plant.

But that's nitpicking, and you can sort of compensate for this by comparing heavy to light isotope intake. It's just that that can be a major source of error if you're trying to extrapolate from uptake to the original concentration released into the environment.

[ 26 April 2005: Message edited by: DrConway ]


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Bubbles
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posted 27 April 2005 12:57 AM      Profile for Bubbles        Edit/Delete Post
You seem to know how to do this kind of work. Try Green Peace or some other environmental organisation , they might help you getting the materials or financing?
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Cueball
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posted 27 April 2005 01:04 AM      Profile for Cueball   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
The only research Greenpeace funds these days is market research.
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DrConway
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posted 27 April 2005 01:16 AM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Another problem: Plants tend to concentrate some compounds so measuring heavy metals in plants may give erroneous results and make you think there's too much.

Correction for that would have to involve transplanting a representative plant and tracing the uptake and removal of various ions.


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Cueball
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posted 27 April 2005 01:18 AM      Profile for Cueball   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
That sounds better than sex. Do go on...

[ 27 April 2005: Message edited by: Cueball ]


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Bubbles
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posted 27 April 2005 02:02 AM      Profile for Bubbles        Edit/Delete Post
That is to bad about Green Peace, were they not at one point involved in collecting samples from Russian nuclear test sites. Nova Zembla?

But you probably would be comparing plants of different ages. If 100 year old plants have less of 'something' then a 50 year old plants in that area and not in other areas then one could get seriously suspicious and look closer at that 'something'. It probably would not be a one step process. But I am no expert in this field.


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DrConway
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posted 27 April 2005 03:04 AM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Well, if I were doing the study any study I do would be a relatively quick and dirty job, designed to qualitatively assess the degree of uranium and other radioactive heavy-metal contamination and which direction it's heading.

Quantitative work would take a lot longer, but the qualitative stuff would narrow down where the quant. team would have to look.


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Agent 204
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posted 27 April 2005 04:34 AM      Profile for Agent 204   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I don't know much about the geography of that area. Is the Negev Desert close enough to the border that the work could be done in another country? Because somehow I doubt Israel would be too willing to give you a visa to do that kind of work.
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DrConway
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posted 27 April 2005 01:13 PM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
The Negev, as I vaguely recall, is in the southern triangle on one side of which is Egypt and the other, Jordan.

If the soil is very dry there might be very little migration of the contaminants over time, but if it's got some water in it, then migration could take place possibly even to the border with Egypt.

Now, that having been said a parenthetical note is that I found out that plutonium's water transport is found to actually be surprisingly good, because it likes to form colloidal suspensions, and in doing so it just gets carried right along with the water with little further rebinding to the soil, as I understand the paper.

I think we've drifted enough


From: You shall not side with the great against the powerless. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
DrConway
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posted 27 February 2006 03:22 PM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Someone mentioned Dimona recently in connection with a chemical weapons plant explosion. I thought it might be a good idea to note that accidents appear to have happened before.
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al-Qa'bong
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posted 27 February 2006 03:58 PM      Profile for al-Qa'bong   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
The chemical plant was near Haifa, not the Negev.

Say, I should post that story here instead:


Explosion at Chemical weapon plant near Haifa

quote:
An explosion at a chemical weapon- manufacturing plan in northern Palestine Monday injured a number of people and caused alarm, Israeli police sources said.
The blast occurred at a chemical industrial plant run by the Israeli military-industrial firm (Rafael), at Kirya Bailik near Haifa in northern Palestine.


Gee, what's next, a meltdown at Dimona?

[ 27 February 2006: Message edited by: al-Qa'bong ]


From: Saskatchistan | Registered: Feb 2003  |  IP: Logged

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