Two 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 24, 2010 01:15
2 minute read.
Two workers dead after gas leak at Haifa refinery

gas production facility 248.88. (photo credit: AP)

Two 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, from the village of Yafia near Nazareth.


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The leak was contained shortly after the incident, a spokesman for the Bazan Haifa Oil Refinery said.

Police said that the injured had been taken to a local hospital and that the incident was under control, with no disruption to traffic or public safety.

The cause and source of the leak were not immediately known, and no details were available about the nature of the material that leaked.

Sources told The Jerusalem Post the leak had occurred while the refinery had been closed for periodic maintenance, and workers had been wearing protective gear.

Earlier in the day, bromine dripped out of a storage container at the refinery. No one was injured, and the leak was quickly found and plugged. Bromine is an extremely hazardous material that has the potential to cause serious injury and death.

Bromine is mined in the Dead Sea and is mostly transported to Haifa Port for shipment overseas, though some goes to Ramat Hovav Industrial Park in the Negev 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 examining the transport of bromine from the Dead Sea. Most of the shipments arrive at Haifa Port through five population centers, rather than traveling along the significantly shorter and less populated route to Ashdod Port.

Also on Tuesday, a small leak was discovered in the container of a truck carrying 21 tons of bromine to Ramat Hovav. The leak was found 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 hurt, and a probe was launched. staff contributed to this report.

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