Michael Beliakov, 35, and Moshe Tal, 38, both employees of Paz Refineries in Ashdod, died Saturday as a result of hydrogen sulfide poisoning.
An initial investigation revealed that the two were exposed to the toxic gas while repairing a hazardous material pipeline in the facility.
Further details revealed that the two were called in to fix the pipeline around noon. After a while, their coworkers attempted to contact them and once they failed, a few of them began searching for the two.
Beliakov and Tal were found within minutes, lying by the pipe. Magen David Adom paramedics who were called to the plant had no choice but to pronounce them dead at the scene.
Paz Refineries in Ashdod (Photo: Avi Rocach)
It is believed that they died within seconds of coming into contact with the hydrogen sulfide gas.
The two were not wearing protective gear, a mistake compounded by an apparent oversight, as the pipe's mainline valve was not turned off.
The facility's workers were stunned by the tragedy. Both men were described as "meticulous for protocol."
A Paz Refineries spokesman said that the repair that the two were sent out to do did not require any special protective gear.
A source with the Fire and Rescue Department – whose hazmat unit is called in from any incident involving hazardous material – told Ynet that the team "encountered problems getting into the plant," adding that it took an order from Ashdod Police Commander Noam Shekel for the facilities security guards to let them in.
The facility's manager said that it was standard procedure in such cases, meant to minimize potential exposure to any hazardous martial.
Paz Refineries issued the following statement: "A tragic accident took place Saturday during a malfunction repair in one of the facilities. The event was handled according to our emergency protocol.
"The police, as well as the Labor, Trade and Industry Ministry, are investigating the incident and we are lending them our full cooperation. We also send the families our heartfelt condolences."
The Labor, Trade and Industry Ministry confirmed that an investigation was ongoing.