Jul 19, 2004

High Natural Radioactivity in Israel's Water Table

High levels of radioactivity have been discovered in southern Israel's underground water table, according to scientific research, the AFP reported.

The soaring radioactivity levels measured in the Negev Desert and in the Arava valley, a fault line on the border with Jordan, are caused by the existence of natural radioactive elements such as uranium and radon gas, the study by the Beersheva-based Ben Gurion University said.

According to Professor Avner Vengosh, one of the study's authors, there isn't any relation between the abnormal findings and the nearby nuclear plant of Dimona, also in southern Israel.

"This phenomena has spread throughout the area," he said referring to Jordan and Egypt's Sinai desert. "We discovered concentrations of radium reaching up to 10 times the normal average in [Israel's] water table."

Environment ministry officials have advised local fish farmers not to use the water for fear it will contaminate fish destined for human consumption: however, the agriculture ministry reported that no contaminated fish had been found in the area.