(photo credit: Reuters)
After a freight train containing hazardous chemicals derailed overnight between
Monday and Tuesday, authorities maintained that no spillage or injuries had
The train, which derailed around 1 a.m. near Kiryat Gat, was
carrying containers of bromide and of potassium nitrate – a fertilizer –
according to Environmental Protection Ministry Southern District Manager Guy
While the bromide tanks remained on the tracks during the
derailment, the potassium nitrate containers fell without spillage, both Samet
and Israel Railways said.
Despite media reports that the derailment was
caused by a herd of cattle crossing the rail tracks, Israel Railways maintained
that it was too early in the investigation to determine the cause of the
The containers, called “iso tanks,” are built according to
International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standards.
9:40 a.m. Tuesday, Israel Railways had updated its website, reporting the
temporary closure of a section of the railway between Kiryat Gat and Beersheba,
but made no mention of the reason for the closure. Stressing that all other
trains in the country are operating normally, the public service announcement
said that the Tel Aviv-to-Beersheba train lines will start and finish their
journeys at Kiryat Gat.
Responding to a query from The Jerusalem Post
however, a spokesman for Israel Railways confirmed that the chemicals were in
fact aboard the train, but that there was no leakage of hazardous materials
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Shuttle buses were provided for passengers, and Israel
Railways teams were working to repair the track, the spokesman said.
Environmental Protection Ministry was informed about the situation overnight
when it occurred. The ministry immediately instructed investigative and
monitoring teams to remain in the area until the evacuation of the containers
Although the freight train was carrying much more bromide than
potassium nitrate – with bromide the much more hazardous of the two – the only
containers to fall were those of potassium nitrate, and no leakage occurred,
With the city of Kiryat Gat only 2 km. away, if the bromide
had fallen and spilled, officials would be facing an entirely different
scenario, he explained.
“If the bromide had fallen and the tank been
damaged, we would have had an accident that infected the citizens of Kiryat
Gat,” Samet told the Post on Tuesday afternoon.
Samet said that he and
his team members performed an investigative exercise, concluding that if one iso
tank had spilled, areas up to 4 km. away would have been
“We have been lucky, but in any case, the bromide tank is more
strongly structured, so we think that even it there had been an accident,
nothing would have happened to the iso tank,” he said.
had not been confirmed by mid-afternoon Tuesday, however, Samet acknowledged, as
the Environment Ministry’s investigation, in conjunction the Transportation
Ministry, was still ongoing, he said.
Although no damage occurred during
the derailment, Peretz warned that the event should be seen as a cautionary
“The event [Tuesday morning] is a warning sign for the construction
of a railway route from Eilat that is supposed to transport hazardous materials
in the future, within cities and near communities,” Peretz said.
a grave signal that the approach toward transporting hazardous materials must
change dramatically,” he said.
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