Industrial waste water leaks from Israeli chemical plant – Jerusalem Post


The public is asked to avoid Ashalim and nearby routes until further notice.
A leakage of industrial waste water with high acidity occurred on Friday afternoon at the Rotem Amfert plant, causing acidic water to flow into the Ashalim area of the Judean desert, according to the Israel Nature and Parks Authority.

Israel Nature and Parks Authority staff are in the area working to block further contamination and to prevent travelers from going to the area.

Gilad Gabbai, director of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority’s Southern Region, said that they were working with all parties in order to minimize damage to plants, animals and travelers in the region.

He further stated that the impact of the spill would be felt long-term as the waste water seeped into the ground, contaminating water and endangering wildlife. Gabbai estimated that the area impacted is about 10 kilometers.

According to the Rotem Amfert chemical plant, the leak occurred at 11:45 a.m. and plant workers immediately began work to stop the leak. The flow of waste water has ceased, according to a company spokesperson.

The public is asked to avoid Ashalim and nearby routes until further notice.

Environmental Protection Ministry mulls criminal probe into Ashalim acid spill – YNET

Ministry says the spill caused ‘serious damage’ to wild and plant life along 20 kilometers of the riverbed, and said it would demand that Rotem Fertilizers begin clean-up efforts immediately.
Andrew Friedman/TPS|Published: 04.07.17

The heads of Rotem Fertilizers will appear before an Environmental Protection Ministry committee Monday as the mnistry considers opening a criminal investigation into a massive acid spill that polluted the Ashalim Creek west of the Dead Sea last week.

About 100,000 cubic meters of acid spilled into the riverbed when a retaining wall of an evaporation pool at the fertilizer company collapsed. Video footage from Route 90—the main highway running the length of Israel’s eastern border—shows a strong flow of acid rushing through the riverbed.

The ministry said the spill caused “serious damage” to wild and plant life along 20 kilometers of the riverbed, and said it would demand that Rotem begin clean-up efforts immediately.

However, a leading environmentalist says he fears that any effort to hold Rotem accountable will not punish the company for negligence or encourage other companies to invest in security measures to protect the environment.

“Even if the State Attorney brings criminal charges, typically there will be a plea bargain in which the most serious charges are dropped and the company admits guilt. That turns the whole thing into an economic issue—environmental disasters become just another business expense,” said Dr. Alon Tal, chair of the Department of Public Policy at Tel Aviv University and the founder of Adam Teva V’Din, an advocacy NGO committed to protecting Israel’s environment and public health.

Tal told Tazpit Press Service (TPS) that should Rotem be found of criminal wrongdoing, the process of assigning punishment should consist of three elements: An assessment of the ecological damage, an assessment of the company’s financial gain from not having invested in prevention and early-warning systems, and punishment.

“I haven’t been down to the riverbed to survey the damage, but I am certain that a more advanced oversight and warning system would have prevented the disaster. But companies (often) don’t invest in environmental protection measures, they make their money and if something happens, they get fined. But even having paid the fine, the lack of serious ecology measures comes out beneficial to the company,” Tal said.

Tal added that Zionist and Israeli history is replete with examples of poor attitudes to environmental issues because of the State’s attempt to preserve jobs. But as a result, he said the country faces a serious environmental crisis, with massive pollution of rivers, streams, oceans and groundwater.

Asked whether he felt the ministry would use the current incident to make an example of Rotem to send a message of deterrence to other would-be polluters, Tal said he would welcome that eventuality, but added quickly that he would not hold his breath.

“A few years ago, the director general of the ministry employed me as an adviser and asked me to prepare a document – how do we calculate the appropriate punishment for environmental damage. I developed a system called Cherem—a Hebrew-language acronym meaning Calculating Profits of Polluters. It was a whole software program to calculate the profits of polluters, in order to come up with an appropriate punishment.

“They never used it once,” he said.

Article printed with permission from TPS.,7340,L-4984542,00.html
Road 90 opened after being blocked due to acidic water flow into Asalim Stream
Acidic water reservoir in plant belonging to Israel Chemicals bursts, eventually reaching stream; work being carried out to block acidic water flow and prevent travelers from reaching area.
Ilana Curiel|Last update: 30.06.17 , 20:47

Acidic water flowed for several hours into the Asalim Stream in the Judean Desert reserve. The source of the pollution is leakage from high-acid gypsum from a pool at the Rotem Amfert plant in Rotem Plateau in the south of Israel. Highway 90 was blocked for traffic between Dead Sea and Moshav Ein Tamar following the breach of the acidic water reservoir. After initially being blocked, the nearby Road 90 was reopened for traffic.

The Ministry of Environmental Protection and the Nature and Parks Authority have arrived in the area and are preventing people from entering the stream, looking into minimizing damage and stopping the flow of acidic water. The Israel Nature and National Parks Protection Authority is asking the public not to reach the Asalim Stream or nearby routes until further notice.

A crack in the wall of the reservoir’s wall, caused from the water’s high acidity level, caused the huge erosion and the pool collapsed and emptied. The water was washed for about 10 kilometers of Asalim Stream, with thousands of cubic meters of acid plaster pouring down the stream.

Gilad Gabbay, director of the Southern District of the Israel Nature and National Parks Protection Authority, explained that “this is very acidic water that leaked from the plant, damaging the flora and fauna.” He added that “animals in the area are liable to drink from (the polluted stream—ed). It also permeated the soil, which may affect other areas. ”

Gabbay continued to say that “at this point, we are working in the field in cooperation with the other parties involved to minimize the damage to nature, and most importantly, to prevent harm to travelers, because any contact with the water is dangerous for them. At this stage, we estimate that the area that was damaged in the stream is more than ten kilometers long. ”

Israel Chemicals responded bay saying, “At 11:45 we found a hole in the eastern embankment of the plaster pool at the Rotem Amfert Negev plant, which caused plaster to spill into the area of ​​pool 4 and part of Nahal Asalim. No one was injured. At this stage, the company is unable to estimate the environmental impact. ”

First published: 30.06.17, 19:42,7340,L-4983107,00.html