“Nuclear operations [in Israel] are conducted at the Atomic Energy Commission’s Nahal Soreq Research Center and at the Negev Nuclear Research Center near Dimona. The degree of risk posed by the research activities in both Dimona and in Soreq is not similar to the risk posed by power plants for electricity generation. Even if malfunctions occur, their potential magnitude can in no way be compared to the magnitude of those referred to above. Special attention is devoted to safe storage and continuous cooling of the spent reactor fuel that continues to emit radiation and decay heat,” according to an INSS publication by senior researchers Uzi Eilam and Gilead Sher.
“The quantity of fissile material in the reactor in Dimona is smaller by two orders of magnitude than that of a reactor for electricity generation with an output of 1,000 megawatts, and, at the Soreq Center, even less, about 5 megawatts. The reactor in Dimona, constructed inside a containment building, is maintained and upgraded until it will ultimately be shut down and replaced with a new system. The plant undergoes routine periodic shutdowns for testing and maintenance, which have included replacements of many components, such as valves, coolant pipes, and more. The condition of the steel tank that houses the nuclear fuel rods and the neutron absorber is tested during every maintenance cycle. On the day that the reactor experts assess that the tank is liable to jeopardize the safety of the reactor, the entire reactor will be shut down.”