In the largest class action settlement ever agreed upon in a case concerning the environment, the Eilat-Ashkelon Pipeline Company (EAPC) has reached a deal with a group of plaintiffs – including the Environmental Protection Ministry and the Nature and Parks Authority – to pay NIS 100 million in damages following a lawsuit over a crude oil spill in 2014.The money will go toward the restoration of the nature reserve and the prevention of future damages. The case is the first in which a company had to pay for environmental damage that did not cause any direct personal harm.“It will take many years to restore the nature reserve, if at all,” said David Lehrer, executive director of the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies.He noted, however, that the State of Israel recognizing direct responsibility for ecological damage “is a major victory for environmentalists in particular, and for Israeli citizens in general.”On December 3, 2014, five million liters of oil spilled close to the town of Be’er Ora, approximately 20 km. north of Eilat, and badly damaged the Evrona Nature Reserve. Multiple class actions suits were opened against EAPC and other officials due to the damage caused by the pollution. The suits demanded compensation for all residents of Israel and the residents of the Hevel Eilot Regional Council and surrounding areas, Be’er Ora, and landowners and other civilian groups.The gas seeped into the ground and severely damaged the environment, animals and plant life in the nature reserve and lead to the entire reserve being stained with oil, which caused unprecedented damage to the reserve and its unique ecosystem.There is a serious concern that acacia trees on the reserve were critically damaged. The acacias serve as a species that allows many other species to inhabit the area.Amit Bracha, executive director of the Israel Union for Environmental Defense (Adam Teva Va’Din in Hebrew), said that for dozens of years, EAPC acted “in the dark, behind closed doors, while repeatedly damaging the environment. The disaster it caused a few years ago is one of the worst ecological disasters Israel has ever experienced. It will take over 50 years for the Evrona Nature Reserve to be restored, if ever. Flora and fauna are dead and will never come back, and the Israeli public will be prevented from enjoying the nature belonging to it.“Legal procedures of Adam Teva Va’Din, including the High Court of Justice against EAPC and amending the regulations on the matter, brought about the canceling of the privilege that allowed EAPC to not provide information concerning the quality of the environment and planning procedures.”The Civil Enforcement Unit in the State Attorney’s Office reached the settlement between the EAPC and the Environmental Protection Ministry, the Nature and Parks Authority, Hevel Eilot Regional Council, Be’er Ora Committee and class action groups.The Environmental Protection Ministry can still pursue criminal procedures related to the incident and request that sanctions be placed on the company during these procedures.