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1 killed, 10 hurt in blast at drilling site in South

July 2, 2012 14:06

Pipe explodes at Mekorot drilling site, releasing toxic chemicals; one person in critical condition, four seriously wounded.

Magen David Adom ambulances [file]

Magen David Adom ambulances 311. (photo credit:Reuters)

One person was killed and ten were injured on Monday when a pipe of flowing hydrochloric acid exploded at a drilling installation operated by the Mekorot water company near Ein Yahav in the Arava region of the South.

The injured were evacuated by helicopters and ambulances to Soroka University Medical Center in Beersheba. One person was in critical condition, four in serious condition, and five others were lightly injured.

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The Environmental Protection Ministry said there is no danger to area 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 five kilometers away from the site.

The staff members provided instructions to police officers on site as to how to properly protect themselves and enter 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 a pipe system 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 inevitable and we can prevent them but in order to do this, a true revolution in regulations of this field 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 corner to corner," Henin said.

Police closed Highway 90 to traffic in both directions.

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