Ashkelon-Eilat Pipeline to undergo hearing on hazardous odor, emissions

The inspection found there had indeed been a strong and significant odor hazard in the region, which had been felt for two days in surrounding residential areas.

OIL SLICKS from the burst Eilat-Ashkelon pipeline blacken the Evrona Nature Reserve, threaten vegetation and endanger wildlife. (photo credit: NIV ELIS)
OIL SLICKS from the burst Eilat-Ashkelon pipeline blacken the Evrona Nature Reserve, threaten vegetation and endanger wildlife.
(photo credit: NIV ELIS)
The Environmental Protection Ministry issued a warning to the Eilat-Ashkelon Pipeline company on Thursday and announced that the director of the Ashkelon district, Baruch Weber, will be holding an online hearing for the company after an odor hazard began disturbing neighborhood residents.
Environmental Protection Minister Gila Gamliel said of the incident that "It is not possible for the residents of Ashkelon and the surrounding area to continue to suffer from recurring odor hazards."
She continued, saying that "The Eilat Ashkelon Pipeline will not turn the area into Ashkelon's backyard. The Environmental Protection Ministrt will continue to act as necessary with the polluting parties, even if it is a company that is claimed to be of paramount importance to the economy. Public and environmental interests are always a priority!"
On November 26, the Emergency Center of the Ministry of Environmental Protection received several complaints from Ashkelon residents regarding a hazardous odor of fuel. 
In coordination with the Environmental Protection Ministry, a comprehensive inspection team was sent to the area by the Association of Cities for the Environment, Ashkelon District, as well as the Association's southern district representatives. 
The inspection's findings indicated there had indeed been a strong and significant odor hazard in the region, which was felt for two days in surrounding residential areas.
In addition to the odor hazards, the monitoring station located near the Eilat Ashkelon Pipeline site recorded significant increases in the short-term concentrations of the pollutant benzene, a dangerous substance with harmful health effects.
The most unusual indices were recorded at the monitoring station in southern Ashkelon. In the monitoring station located in the IDF's Ashkelon holiday village, significant increases in the short-term concentrations of benzene were measured.
An inspection by the Environmental Protection Ministry and the Association of Cities revealed that fuel tank number 56 had a malfunction, which caused raw fuel to leak to the roof of the tank and later to the odor hazard in the area.
Immediately after the initial investigation, the director of the Southern District of the Ministry of Environmental Protection, Baruch Weber, issued an order to eliminate the hazard. 
The ministry also issued a warning to the surrounding public, on the recommendation of the Health Ministry, which included recommendations to close windows and avoid strenuous physical activity.
Last year, the Eilat Ashkelon pipeline was forced to pay $100 million in compensation for a 5 million-liter oil spill which happened in late 2014, and badly damaged the Evrona Nature Reserve in southern Israel. 
5 million liters of oil spilled close to the town of Be’er Ora in late 2014, approximately 20 km. north of Eilat, and badly damaged the Evrona Nature Reserve.