An explosion at a water treatment facility in the South’s Arava region killed one man and injured nine others – five of them seriously – on Monday.

The blast, which occurred 9 kilometers south of Ein Yahav, went off at a pipeline carrying an acidic salty substance.

Its cause is under investigation.

Magen David Adom paramedics and police said that one person is in critical condition, four are in serious condition and four are lightly injured. All of the injured are employees working at the site, which is owned by the Mekorot water company.

Ambulances and IDF helicopters arrived at the site to evacuate the wounded to the Soroka University Medical Center in Beersheba. The hospital said toxicologists were quickly brought to the emergency room to treat people who inhaled substances that can cause internal burns to lungs.

The Environmental Protection Ministry said there is no danger to local residents as a result of the explosion. After exploring the area, a team of ministry workers determined that the risk range is only 200 meters, and that the closest residential population is 5 kilometers away from the site. The staff members provided instructions to police officers on site on how to properly protect themselves when entering the facility, the ministry added.

MK Dov Henin (Hadash), chairman of the Knesset’s joint committee on environment and health, warned of the dangers that such glitches in pipe systems can cause and called for firmer regulations in response to Monday’s event.

“Time and time again, we see that the status quo in the field of hazardous materials in Israel is forfeiting the lives and health of citizens, workers and bystanders,” Henin said.

“Glitches in hazardous materials are not predestined, and we can prevent them, but in order to do this, a true revolution in regulations of this domain in Israel is required.”

Such new regulations, Henin explained, should include high standards for hazardous material facilities as well as for all the transmission systems associated with the plants.

“I intend to convene the committee to discuss the accident that occurred and the lessons that need to be learned from it from a wide scope,” Henin said.

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