The Environmental Protection Ministry estimated Wednesday that no less than one million liters of jet fuel leaked out of the Eilat-Ashkelon pipeline at the Nahal Zin nature reserve in the south causing the worst damage ever witnessed at an Israeli nature reserve.
The ministry's southern region manager Guy Samet took out a work cessation order against the Eilat-Ashkelon Pipeline Company demanding that the company put together a revised emergency plan which would need to receive regional approval.
"The work that the Eilat-Askelon Pipeline Company is carrying out along the pipeline is restoration and maintenance work of the old pipeline and of course it is our wish that this work continue," Samet said.
The damaged pipe (Photo: Herzl Yosef)
"That said, a ministry inspection found that they didn't do everything that needed to be done according to their emergency plan which was the cause of the magnitude of the damages," he added.
The Environmental Protection Ministry and the Nature and Parks Authority estimate that the leak reached a depth of up to 5 meters in some places. As for the restoration process, current estimations see the need for the removal of tens of thousands of cubic meters of contaminated soil from the area.
The Eilat-Ashkelon Pipeline Company said in response that "it should be mentioned that the company did not harm the pipeline which caused the damage. Nonetheless, as soon as the incident occurred the company worked to repair the situation.
"Now as always, the Eilat-Ashkelon Pipeline Company works according to Environmental Protection Ministry guidelines. We intend to sue for reimbursement of all factors that damaged the pipeline or led to the damage in the line."