JERUSALEM, SEPT. 15 -- Details have emerged here of an accident nearly 30 years ago at Israel's secret nuclear research facility in which one worker was killed and at least one other injured.

The Israeli newspaper Maariv reported Wednesday that the accident -- which occurred Dec. 14, 1966, in a laboratory at the facility -- required an emergency cleanup that took two months.

Maariv's account, which was submitted to Israeli military censors before publication, did not say that radioactive material was removed in the cleanup or that the accident involved an explosion. But Environment Minister Yossi Sarid said in an interview that "there was a blowup within the laboratory," which was separate from the facility's nuclear reactor at Dimona in the Negev Desert.

Sarid said "there was a certain degree of radiation inside {the laboratory}, but outside there was no radiation. It was cleaned up."

The Maariv story and Sarid's remarks provided the first detailed information about any accident in Israel's nuclear program, which was begun in great secrecy in the 1960s.

For 20 years, U.S. and other analysts have asserted that Israel has developed nuclear weapons, but the Israeli government has never acknowledged this, and strict censorship has effectively prevented the press here from reporting on work at the Dimona facility.

The Israeli Atomic Energy Commission acknowledged for the first time in July that a "work accident" at Dimona had occurred after Israeli television aired an interview with an employee at the site who said that an accident more than two decades ago had left one person dead.

In a brief statement two days later, the commission said the death of the employee, whom it did not name, was not "connected directly or indirectly to radioactivity," but was the result of a blow to the head. It said the incident had caused no environmental contamination.

Maariv reporter Alex Doron, who wrote this week's story with Leat Ron, said that following the commission's statement his paper attempted to uncover more details and found a notice in Israeli papers about the death of Abraham Gofer, then 22, on Dec. 15, 1966. The notice lacked the usual information about where, how and when he died, but the paper located Gofer's brother and mother, and interviewed them.

Maariv's article said Gofer, a lab technician, died instantly in the accident and that three other employees were injured. Sarid said only one person was injured and that Gofer died after the "blowup" when "something was falling down, and he fell down and died."

Asked if the lab had collapsed, Sarid said he did not know, but he added that it "was harmed." Sarid said there have been no other accidents at the facility since then, and he called Dimona "one of the most secure {nuclear facilities} all over the world."