An oil spill that has devastated parts of southern Israel was four times greater than initially thought, according to a data presented to the Environmental Protection Ministry by the Eilat Ashkelon Pipeline Company (EAPC).
The data states that the spill from EAPC's Trans-Israel pipeline saw five million liters of crude oil escape into the environment, as opposed to "only" 1-1.5 million liters as was first claimed.
The oil spilled out over 6-7 kilometers near Route 90 and into the Evrona Nature Reserve near Eilat after the Trans-Israel oil pipeline burst Wednesday night.
Environmental Protection Ministry said in response that it had been skeptical of the preliminary data provided by the EAPC. According to the update provided by EAPC on Sunday, some two million liters of oil have already been funneled from the area and some 13 thousand tons of contaminated soil have been removed.
The ministry said that they are preparing for rains that may come on Tuesday, and have prepared reinforced pollution absorption equipment. Dams have also been built on the Evrona Nature Reserve to prevent contamination from reaching the Gulf of Aqaba in the event of a flood.
The Environmental Protection Ministry has branded the spill one of the worst pollution events in the history of Israel, and warned that the cleanup process could take many months.
The spill led to 80 people being hospitalized for respiratory issues in the neighboring city of Aqaba in Jordan, according to the Israeli media.
The Evrona Nature Reserve, which is home to a rare population of Doum palm trees, Acacia trees, and Dorcas gazelles, as well as rodents, reptiles and birds, was hit hard by the leak.
The chief scientist of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, Yehoshua Shakedi, predicts that the spill spans 1,000 or more acres in Evrona.