Jerusalem: Workers at Israel's nuclear reactor in Dimona, home to one of the largest concentration of Indian Jews in the country, have claimed in court that radiation leaks at the ageing plant have resulted in cases of cancer among them, a media report here said.

At a court hearing on Wednesday on the complaint by 44 employees at the nuclear reactor and their families that the workers are suffering from cancer and other diseases due to radiation at work, their attorney cited memos purportedly showing that safety problems led to the leak of radioactive substances.
   
The plaintiffs' lawyer quoted from a 1992 memo by a safety inspector that allegedly refers to radioactive material found in an area of the facility where it did not belong, the report said.
   
The plaintiff's lawyer, Ilan Kaner, also said internal memos report the presence of dispersed radioactive matter.
   
The defence in turn said the evidence should not be introduced, but Petah Tikva District Court Judge, Esther Dudkiewicz, dismissed it saying it was expected that state prosecutors would present documentation on safety incidents.
   
A witness for the defence, Dan Litai, a former deputy head of Dimona's safety division, was reportedly asked about an incident involving a radiation leak.
   
Litai said that he knew there had been radiation leaks, including one near an area that was supposed to be relatively free of radioactive material.
   
He also said that there had been several cases of technical problems and it was not clear which he was being asked about.
   
"Mishaps occur," Litai told the court adding, "There have been mishaps there since the day (the Dimona facility) was built, and I assume there still are".
   
Nuclear reactors are normally decommissioned after 40 years but officials at Israel's Dimona nuclear reactor had insisted that it is "safe" and "working" four years ago when an investigative TV programme raised questions about its safety 44 years after it was commissioned.
   
"It is not expected to be shut down in the next few years like in other countries where reactors are decomissioned after 40 years," deputy CEO of the nuclear centre, Elhanan Abramov said.
   
The report on the programme titled, 'Expired', looked into the safety of then 44-year-old nuclear reactor, which as per international media reports is used to manufacture nuclear
weapons.
   
Israel maintains a policy of ambiguity on the issue, neither accepting nor denying reports.

(Agencies)