Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan announced on Thursday night that he was launching a criminal investigation into the mysterious chlorine-like stench experienced by residents of the Tel Aviv region during the day.

As of Thursday night, however, the ministry still had yet to uncover the source of the foul smell.

Early that afternoon, the Environmental Protection Ministry reported that its staff members had been taking measurements all over the region, and while they had not yet identified the source, they found that it was not hazardous to public health.

Measurements continued throughout the day, and by 5 p.m., the office said that complaints of odors had ceased, but that tests would continue until inspectors could identify the source of the odor with 100-percent certainty.

After people began reporting pungent odors in their areas, a number of media outlets initially wrote that the source of the smell was gas drilling in Nitzanim, citing information the Home Front Command provided to the local authorities.

However, a spokesman from the Environmental Protection Ministry denied these allegations, telling The Jerusalem Post, “We are not dealing with rumors. There is no gas drilling in Nitzanim – the army is just saying that.”

As of the early evening, the ministry said that the tests already carried out determined that the odors were not from a soil disinfection process at the Kfar Hayarok agricultural school/youth village in southern Ramat Hasharon.

Whatever the source of the problem might be, MK Dov Henin (Hadash), chairman of the Knesset Joint Environment and Health Committee, demanded in the mid-afternoon that the relevant authorities clarify the source of the smell and take the steps necessary to protect the public immediately.

“This is further proof that we must behave in a very meticulous and careful manner regarding environmental issues [and] approving activities that are liable to endanger the environment and public health,” Henin said.

“Along these lines, I say with regret that, instead of going in this direction, the government is going in the opposite direction and promotes a green route that is lenient on gas and oil drilling in the sea and on beaches.”

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