The Israel Lands Authority, in collaboration with the Environmental Protection Ministry, published a tender on Tuesday for the establishment of an ammonia production plant in Israel.
This step, according to the ministry, signifies the beginning of the long awaited evacuation of the Haifa Chemicals ammonia tanker.
Residents and environmentalists in the Haifa Bay region have long been arguing that the enormous tanker’s presence in such a populated area constitutes a major threat to their security.
In March 2012, the government therefore decided that the 17,000-ton ammonia facility must close and move to an unpopulated portion of the Negev by 2017.
However, Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz made clear last spring that he would not renew the plant’s license after 2016.
“I made the removal of the ammonia container from Haifa and the establishment of a factory in the South a priority of the government,” Peretz said. “Also, as a former defense minister, I know how important it is to avoid disaster and to evacuate the ammonia tanker from a population hub.”
According to the tender, companies interested in building the new facility will be required to demonstrate experience in setting up an ammonia plant of at least 150,000 tons production capacity in the past decade, the Environment Ministry said. At the Mishor Rotem site, the winning firm will be able to lease the plot for 49 years, with an option of extending the lease for another 49 years. In addition, the company will be able to produce related products such as urea, methanol and melamine, the ministry said.
“We will continue in our rigorous supervision and do everything to protect the public,” Peretz said. “The construction of a production plant in the South, rather than moving the [existing] container, will prevent danger and prevent a situation of transferring that danger from the North to the South, and will also reduce the transport of ammonia on Israeli roads.”