Eilat-Ashkelon Pipeline Company beach property to be returned to the public

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April 26, 2015 20:00

The government first announced its intentions to open the beach to the public in the weeks following a massive December 3 oil spill.

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Eilat

Eilat beach . (photo credit: ASSAF ZVULUNI/THE ISRAEL NATURE & PARKS AUTHORITY)

After being closed to visitors for 50 years, a portion of the Eilat beach property occupied by the Eilat-Ashkelon Pipeline Company will soon be opened to the public.

The government first announced its intention to open the beach to the public in the weeks following a massive December 3 oil spill, when an EAPC pipeline spilled some 5 million liters of crude oil into the Arava Desert, just north of Eilat. As part of a review of EAPC land use, officials decided that the company’s beachside property next to Eilat’s Dolphin Reef should once again be in the hands of the public.

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The decision was among the conclusions of an interministerial committee chaired by Environmental Protection Ministry, with representatives from the Interior, Finance and National Infrastructure, Energy and Water ministries.

After committee evaluations demonstrated that EAPC does not make use of even one-third of its beachside property, the representatives decided that in a first stage, 200 meters will be released to the public, pending government approval, the Environment Ministry said. In a second stage, the government will release another portion of the property, which includes unique marine biodiversity and “spectacular coral reefs” under the protection of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, the ministry added.

The announcement regarding the EAPC beach property occurred just three weeks after the Environmental Protection Ministry reopened the Arava’s Evrona Nature Reserve, which was severely damaged in the oil spill. After deeming the area free of air pollution, ministry officials decided to open the reserve to the public in time for Passover. Nonetheless, they warned that the soil still remains contaminated and is under rehabilitation.

“After we prevented an ecological disaster in the Eilat Bay and opened the Evrona Nature Reserve to visitors, we are ensuring that the citizens of Israel will enjoy a unique nature reserve in the city of Eilat that has been withheld from them for decades,” Deputy Environmental Protection Minister Ophir Akunis said on Sunday.

In response to the decision to release the EAPC beach property to the public, the environmental organization Zalul said that doing so is “correct and appropriate.”

“Zalul now calls upon Deputy Minister Akunis not to be satisfied at that and to act immediately to cancel EAPC’s concession terms, which enable it to carry out severe environmental violations under secrecy, without oversight and restrictions and without being punished,” the organization said. “This is, in Zalul’s opinion, one of the main roles of the environmental protection minister in the coming term.”


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