A request for an NIS 1.86 billion class-action suit against the Tirkovot Bromide Ltd. agrochemical factory was submitted Monday to the Beersheba District Court. The request for a suit against the plant, located in the Ramat Hovav petrochemical complex, was filed by attorney Yochi Geva on behalf of some 260,000 residents of Beersheba, Kibbutz Revivim, Segev Shalom, and the local Beduin community. Geva told Army Radio that the suit was based on the results of some 60-80 snap inspections conducted on the factory's premises since 2001. Geva said the results showed that Tirkovot was releasing hundreds, if not thousands, of times the permitted amount of hazardous materials into the air. According to Geva, the materials in question included ammonia and chloride. The attorney said that in addition to the carcinogens, the substances allegedly polluting the air around the Ramat Hovav petrochemical complex also risked causing local residents irreversible liver damage. The plaintiffs are seeking to establish a fund that will cover the cost of tests to determine what, if any, adverse medical conditions have been caused by the firm's pollutants and treat them. According to a recent Health Ministry report, the rate of cancer among Negev residents has increased 26% since 2001. The ministry pointed a finger at the Ramat Hovav manufacturers as one of the main reasons for the spike in the local cancer rate. Geva has also requested a class-action suit against another Ramat Hovav chemical plant, Makhteshim Agan Industries - one of a series of requests for weighty environmental class action suits to make their way to district courts recently. Thus far, none have been given the green light. Tirkovot Ltd. said in response that it had not yet received a copy of the suit, and that it was careful to comply with environmental regulations.