Suspicions surrounding Haifa refinery fire bring criminal investigation

On December 25, a fire overtook a 12,000-cubic meter benzene storage container at an Israel Oil Refineries – Bazan (ORL) facility.

January 2, 2017 18:17
1 minute read.
Explosion at Haifa refinery

Explosion at Haifa refinery. (photo credit: Courtesy)

The blaze that engulfed a Haifa Bay factory nearly all of last Sunday may have been the result of foul play, a special investigative team has concluded.

On December 25, a fire overtook a 12,000-cubic meter benzene storage container at an Israel Oil Refineries – Bazan (ORL) facility. While emergency crews managed to quash the flames by the evening, preventing any injuries or damage, the cause of the fire was unknown at the time.

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A special investigative team appointed by the Environmental Protection Ministry has now filed its preliminary conclusions, detailing suspicions of foul play at the site, the ministry reported on Monday. In response to the findings, the ministry’s Green Police has opened a criminal investigation into the matter.

The special team, which is being managed by the Green Police and includes ministry professionals and outside consultants, has already summoned several ORL executives for interrogation.

The investigation has been examining the conduct of executives both during and after the event, as well as regulatory violations committed, according to a ministry statement.

“Naturally, due to the fact that this is an active investigation in progress, the ministry is prohibited from mentioning any details of the content of the investigation,” the statement said. “This information will be reported to the public fully, with the findings of the investigation.”

In response to the investigation, a statement from ORL stressed that the group “operates in accordance with all applicable laws and standards, which are the strictest in the Western world.”

“The fire was dealt with professionally, it was extinguished within a few hours without casualties and without extracting the container from the premises,” the statement said.

“The company is cooperating fully with the investigative team and will act in accordance with any instruction from the relevant authorities.”

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