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$100,000,000 Desalination Plant Planned in Israel; Project Discussed

July 29, 1964
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Tentative plans for the erection in Israel of a pilot plant for the use of nuclear energy toward desalination of sea water, to cost approximately $100, 000, 000, were discussed here today by the Joint United States-Israel conference dealing with this subject. The conference opened yesterday in the office of Prime Minister Levi Eshkol.

The American and Israeli technologists and atomic experts participating in the conference are discussing overall plans involving the construction of two atomic plants for use in the desalination project. The first of the plants, to be considered as a pilot project for the rest of the world, would be built in Israel, at a site not as yet determined.

That plant would be ready by 1970. It would have a nuclear reactor of 800 thermal megawatt capacity, generating 200 megawatts of electric power, capable of distilling between 100, 000, 000 and 200, 000, 000 gallons of water daily. A plant of that size, the experts believe, would be enough to meet Israel’s water and power needs in 1970; A megawatt is the equivalent of 1, 000, 000 watts.

On the basis of this pilot project, scientists and technologists believe they will, after studying the techniques and results, be able to plan larger plants. One such larger plant is envisaged as a reactor that could generate 1, 000 to 1, 500 megawatts of electric power, capable of distilling 500, 000, 000 to 800, 000, 000 gallons of water daily.


While the pilot plant in Israel is expected to cost about $100, 000, 000, the division of the costs as between the United States and Israel is not yet certain, and this will be one of the subjects to be discussed at the current meeting, it is believed;

The experts on both sides said that the costs of fresh water to be derived from the projected pilot plant here would be high but within the capability of Israel industry and of urban users. The cost would be “marginal” for branches of agriculture producing high-profit exports, such as citrus, but would be otherwise “prohibitive, ” they believe.

U.S. Ambassador Walworth Barbour, who, along with Mr. Eshkol, attended yesterday’s opening meeting of the experts, said that the new project would not only aid Israel with water and electric power, but would also help provide needed knowledge for the rest of the world.

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