Experts clear Arad-area training base of responsibility in Nahal lymphoma cases

IDF Spokesman's report finds Tel Arad base safe and without any environmental risk factors.

Tel Arad 248.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Tel Arad 248.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Nahal training base near Tel Arad - which parents of Nahal soldiers claimed had triggered cancer in some of them due to "pollution" - has been found safe and without any environmental risk factors identified, according to a report issued by the IDF Spokesman on Wednesday evening. The report was written by experts - both inside the IDF and from outside the army - who said there was no reason to move the base to another location. The parents' group and the Adam, Teva Ve'din organization had gone to the High Court of Justice in December to demand that it be moved. The committee of experts, chaired by Prof. Ofer Spielberg (director of hematology at the Rabin Medical Center-Beilinson Campus in Petah Tikva) comprised 17 physicians and researchers who are among the leading experts in health and environmental influences. One of the members was a representative of the families. Their expertise is in the field of hemato-oncology, public health, environmental and occupational health, oncology, statistics and environmental engineering. The team conducted statistical analysis of data on the health of soldiers who had spent some time doing basic training at the Nahal facility. While the team did not find any different risk of contracting cancer by spending time at the Nahal base, it did recommend continuing to monitor potential environmental risks in the area and reassessing the situation every three to five years. The IDF Medical Corps accepted the recommendations as is, and the Chief Medical Corps commander sent a personal letter to members of the parents' group. The IDF's response to the High Court of Justice petition will be presented by the end of the month. The investigation team studied data based on 100,000 soldiers who had served even just one day at a base of the Nahal, Golani, Givati and Paratroopers training bases between 1994 and 2006. Data were crossmatched with those in the Israel Cancer Registry to see if there was any more cancer at the Nahal base than in other bases. The team also toured the base and training areas and visited the waste treatment plant at Arad and its industrial area. The IDF Spokesman stressed that the IDF is committed to the health of all its soldiers and that it will continue to examine any suspected health risk posed to them. The High Court of Justice petition by the parents' group and Adam, Teva Ve'din was filed against the defense minister, IDF chief of staff, health minister, environmental protection minister and the IDF chief medical officer. The group claimed that their sons‚ contracted Hodgkin's lymphoma (cancer of the lymph glands) as a result of being at the base. Seventeen such lymphoma cases were diagnosed between 1994 and 2001 in soldiers who had served there, while a total of 58 soldiers from Nahal contracted some type of cancer. Only seven Golani soldiers and seven paratroopers who trained at other bases contracted lymphoma during the same period.