Judge Tamar Sharon Netanel that the order to empty the tank will be delayed until April 1, when the company will be legally required to empty the tank. The judgment also imposed a ban on refilling the tank and bringing shipments of ammonia into the Haifa Bay.
In her remarks, Netanel said, "The container, as well as ships carrying ammonia, are a present threat to every person in the area of the city of Haifa at any time. The probability of a scenario in which significant amounts of ammonia are released is significant and not low.
"The damage that can be caused and the realization of that prospect is unacceptable. It can lead to a significant loss of life and the disaster is that of a national scale."
The judge also acknowledged the economic hit that Haifa Chemicals is expected to take and said, "I am not unaware of the damage that this judgment will cause to third parties and I am aware that there are no magic solutions. The probability of an actual occurrence in which hundreds of thousands of people are seriously harmed just trumps the economic and business interests."
The order comes despite an appeal made by Haifa Chemicals to Minister of the Development of the Negev and Galilee, Aryeh Deri, to get involved on the issue.
The company claimed that closing the ammonia storage tanks would incur serious financial damages on its 600 workers in Haifa and the Negev, and on 3,000 other families who indirectly benefit from the company's activity.