By JEREMY SHARON 12/08/2014

Air quality in the region is now within accepted standards, removal of the contaminated earth from the large pools is nearly complete.

The Eilat Ashkelon Pipeline Company has admitted that some 5 million liters of crude oil spilled out of the pipeline in the Arava region during the catastrophic leak that occurred last week.

The spill occurred close to the town of Be’er Ora, approximately 20 km. north of Eilat, and has badly damaged the Evrona Nature Reserve.

The spill was initially estimated at 1.5 million liters but this figure was revised upward by the EAPC on Sunday.

Approximately 2 million liters had been extracted from the desert using mechanical pumping and some 15,000 tons of contaminated earth were removed, the company said.

The Environmental Protection Ministry is preparing for expected heavy rainfall in the area on Tuesday night with absorption equipment, and is building dams to prevent the oil from being washed down to the Red Sea and damaging the coastline and coral reefs in the area.

The Nature and Parks Authority said that it was “working with the EAPC to deal with the small pools of oil that remain on the ground. Removal of the contaminated earth from the large pools is nearly complete.”

A environmental task force that was dispatched to the Arava region by the Neot Hovav Industrial Zone Municipal Council in the northern Negev region in the wake of the oil leak established on Monday that air quality in the region is now within accepted standards.

More than 80 people in Israel and neighboring Jordan were treated for respiratory problems immediately after the spill due to gases released by the massive leak, mostly in Jordan.

Although there is no apparent risk to humans, serious damage is expected to be caused to flora and fauna in the region.

“The clean-up efforts conducted over the weekend demonstrate the abilities of the [Neot Hovav] Authority in the field of environmental protection,” Neot Hovav council head Andrey Uzan said.

“We were happy to contribute to the damage assessment process and to provide guidance for preventative action, and will provide as much help as is necessary going forward.”

Neot Hovav, formerly Ramat Hovav, is a local/industrial council area 12 km. south of Beersheba and the site of the country’s main hazardous waste disposal facility.

Also on Monday, State Comptroller Joseph Shapira announced that he will review the conduct of the Environmental Protection Ministry with regard to the oil spill.

Shapira said his review would include any authorities connected with the ecological disaster.