Oil facility burns in Haifa Port

Environmental protection groups are calling upon the citizens to take the streets.

An oil plant fire in the Haifa Port (photo credit: ILAN MILSTER - MINISTRY OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION)
An oil plant fire in the Haifa Port
36 firefighting teams are battling a fire that has been ranging at an oil facility in the Haifa Port since Thursday afternoon. Two more teams are on their way to the area.
The industrial facility, that stores 80 metric tons of vegetable oil, is situated near Gate 1 of the Haifa Port. According to the Environmental Protection Ministry, a command room has been deployed in the area in order to monitor the pollution caused by the fire due to the facility's asbestos ceiling.
According to Haifa firefighting unit commander, Hezi Levi, the fire started in three warehouses inside the facility, and has yet to be extinguished. "[The teams] managed to prevent the fire from reaching the main facility that stores thousands of metric tons of oil," he said.
"Once the fire is put out, we will have to clean the oil off the roads and remove the asbestos," Levi told Israeli media. "It is a large-scale event," he said, adding "other facilities in the area have been evacuated."
An oil plant fire in the Haifa Port (image by JAWAD HORANI - MINISTRY OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION)
"The residents of the Haifa metropolitan area are sitting on top of a barrel filled with explosives that is called the Haifa Bay" said Avihu Hahn, the head of Haifa Greens and a member of Haifa city council. "[The bay] contains thousands of tons of flammable, dangerous substances [and has] an old, dysfunctional petrochemical system."
"Today it is an oil facility," he said. "Yesterday it was the poisonous gas leak from the Dor Chemicals facility; the day before it was the burning Bazan facility. [The residents of Haifa] suffer from higher rates of [respiratory] illness [due to the] air pollution. How long will we be held hostage by the Israeli government that finds it convenient to leave Haifa in [this] horrible reality of diseases and mortality?"
Hahn criticized the Environmental Protection Ministry, saying it "neglects [the residents of Haifa" despite being supposed to be an independent regulator. "The Israeli government leaves us here to die, and there is nobody to save us. The residents of Haifa need to get out to the streets for environmental justice," Hahn said, adding that the Haifa Greens "mean to organize a barrage of protests and inspire the residents of Haifa to take the streets."
The Haifa Port, an Israeli strategic asset in the North, has lately been the center of Hezbollah's threats.