Three workers dead after gas leak at Haifa refinery

Five more injured; Leak contained shortly after discovery; police say injured evacuated to Rambam hospital; incident under control.

November 23, 2010 22:03
1 minute read.
Three workers dead after gas leak at Haifa refinery

gas production facility 248.88. (photo credit: AP)

Three people died and five were wounded as the result of a gas leak at the Haifa refinery on Tuesday night.

The victims who died have been identified as cousins George Za'atrah, 31, and Tamer Marjiah, 33, and Tamer al-Haj, 18, all residents of Yafia near Nazareth.

The gas leak was contained shortly after the incident, a spokesman for the refinery said.

Earlier in the day, bromine leaked out of a storage container at the refinery. The leak was quickly found and plugged. Bromine is an extremely hazardous material which has the potential to cause serious injury and death.

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Bromine is mined in the Dead Sea and then mostly transported to the Haifa Port for shipment overseas. Some of it goes to Ramat Hovav for domestic use. If a transport container were to break open, the corrosive material would eat into the ground and contaminate ground water and destroy infrastructure.

Moreover, a serious spill could kill anywhere from 6,500 to 350,000 people, according to Environmental Protection Ministry estimates. The Knesset has recently begun looking into the transport of bromine from the Dead Sea. Most of the shipments go to the Haifa Port through five population centers instead of to the far closer and less populated route to the Ashdod port.

Meanwhile, down south, a small leak was discovered in the container of a truck carrying 21 tons of bromine to the Ramat Hovav Industrial Park on Tuesday afternoon. The leak was discovered at 12:30 p.m. and treated by 1:30 p.m. by the Ramat Hovav environmental unit in conjunction with the southern district office of the Environmental Protection Ministry.

No one was injured and an investigation has been launched to see if any of the protocols for transporting the material were violated. staff contributed to this report.

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