Ezra appoints panel to probe leak at Ramat Hovav chemical plant

Unknown substance leaked out of the Machteshim chemical plant for about 20 minutes in the early afternoon.

Ramat Hovav 298 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Ramat Hovav 298
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Environmental Protection Minister Gideon Ezra formed a committee on Monday evening to look into an apparent leak at the Machteshim chemical plant at the Ramat Hovav Industrial Park earlier in the day. An unknown substance leaked out of the plant for about 20 minutes in the early afternoon. Ezra ordered the committee to have preliminary conclusions ready within two weeks and a full report within a month. He appointed head of the northern division of the ministry Shlomo Katz to lead the committee. Hazardous material specialists, the Green Police and a representative of the Ramat Hovav Council will also sit on the committee. Ezra instructed the committee to investigate how the leak could have happened, what exactly happened, the factory's response to the leakage and the reporting of the leak. Knesset Internal Affairs and Environment Committee head MK Ophir Paz-Pines (Labor) called on the head of the Ramat Hovav Council to investigate the leak and report to the committee. "This incident again proves the need for increasing oversight of activities at Ramat Hovav that might affect the health and the environment of the employees and surrounding residents. The leak today is a painful reminder of the hidden danger polluting factories represent - whether during routine operations or accidents," he said in a statement. Paz-Pines has recently initiated legislation that would create a no-man's land around Ramat Hovav. Ramat Hovav houses many of Israel's chemical plants and other industries. Environmental groups have recorded at least a dozen pollutants emitted from at least 15 factories over the years. The industrial park is at the center of a raging environmental battle because of its proximity to the proposed location of a massive IDF training base.