By Emily Atkin
4 December 2014
(Climate Progress) – A nature reserve has been flooded with oil and more than 80 people have been hospitalized from exposure to toxic fumes after approximately 600,000 gallons of crude oil spilled from a pipeline in southern Israel on Wednesday, according to media reports there.
The massive spill, which resulted from a breach in the 153-mile Trans-Israel pipeline, has been described as “one of the gravest pollution events in the country’s history.” That’s according to Israel Environmental Protection Ministry official Guy Samet, who also said the spill could take months, maybe years, to fully clean up.
“This is one of the State of Israel’s most serious pollution events,” Samut told Israel Radio. “We are still having trouble gauging the full extent of the contamination.”
The breach and subsequent spill took place in the desert near Eilat, a southern Israel city with a population of about 50,000 people. Though the city itself is not said to be in immediate danger, the now-4.3 mile river of oil is reportedly making its way toward the Jordanian border, where fumes have already been detected. […]
Another large concern is that the spill took place in a nature reserve — specifically, the Evrona Nature Reserve, which the Environment Ministry called “one of the most important reserves in the [Arava desert].” The reserve reportedly holds large deer population, and the northernmost douma palm trees in the world.
The Ministry said the trees were not yet in danger, but that other damage had already taken place. “Crude oil flowed throughout the reserve, causing serious damage … to flora and fauna,” Samut told Israeli Radio. [more]