Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz vowed in the Knesset plenum on Wednesday that he would not renew the license of the Haifa Chemicals ammonia plant after 2016 and called upon the relevant authorities to agree on an alternative location in the South.

While the government determined last year that the facility must close and move to an unpopulated portion of the Negev by 2017, plans for the move have not yet progressed due to bureaucratic disagreements. The 17,000-ton ammonia tanker’s presence in Haifa became an even bigger hot-button issue last week, after a Texas fertilizer plant exploded in flames, leaving 14 dead and 200 injured.

Peretz, along with Home Front Defense Minister and former environmental protection minister Gilad Erdan, immediately called for the government to make the ammonia tanker’s move after the Texas incident.

Meanwhile, MK Miri Regev (Likud), chairwoman of the Knesset Internal Affairs and Environment Committee, held a special discussion on the issue Tuesday, during which she and other Knesset members demanded the swift transfer of the facility.

“We must anticipate the solution to the disaster so that we don’t reach an ‘I told you so’ situation,” said MK Dov Henin (Hadash) at the plenary, accusing the plant of operating without a proper building permit or business license.

MK Isaac Herzog (Labor) likewise warned that “the potential for harm is clear and known” and that “disaster is written on the wall.”

After visiting the site a few weeks ago, Peretz stressed that as an environment minister and former defense minister, he felt the urgency of the matter and would strive to prevent the container from becoming a target. At the end of Wednesday’s discussion, the Knesset plenum decided to continue the dialogue in the Internal Affairs and Environment Committee, a Knesset spokesman said.

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