16/03/2016
Hazardous materials expert at scene of bromine leak Photo: Guy Samet
Minister Gabbay on Bromine Leak in Dimona: What Happened is Negligence
Hazardous materials expert at scene of bromine leak
Photo: Guy Samet
An investigation is ongoing in the southern Israeli city of Dimona, after a train accident caused a bromine gas leak there on Monday night, March 14th. A freight train carrying bromine crashed with train cars parked on the tracks at the Israel Railways station. Police had ordered nearby residents to remain in their homes until the next morning, but the area is now considered safe for the public. Nearby stores that were closed are expected to reopen Wednesday morning, March 16th.

Scene of the train accident in Dimona Photo: Guy Samet
Minister Gabbay on Bromine Leak in Dimona: What Happened is Negligence
Scene of the train accident in Dimona
Photo: Guy Samet

​Some 6.5 tons of bromine leaked from the container during the train crash, most of which was absorbed by large amounts of lime, a neutralizing agent.

On the evening of March 15th, officers, Ministry of Environmental Protection (MoEP) officials, and other hazardous material experts worked to remove the bromine container that remained on the side of the tracks and to remove the soil that was contaminated by the hazardous material. They must still determine the best course of action to treat the soil. MoEP Director General Yisrael Dancziger has instructed ministry officials to determine whether legal actions should be taken against Israel Railways.

Environmental Protection Minister Avi Gabbay: "My heart is with the residents of Dimona, who went through a night that was not simple. It is not pleasant to live near an area through which trains carrying hazardous material travel. I spoke with Dimona Mayor Benny Biton several times, who took charge and dealt with the event as was necessary. We, as environmental professionals, are very supportive of trains and freight trains that reduce air pollution and road accidents, and are considered the safest way to transport hazardous materials.

"What happened… was negligence. It is not necessary to investigate in order to know that if train cars remain on tracks, it is negligence. We will deal with this matter and justice will be carried out. Most importantly, we will work to ensure that something like this does not happen again. It is not acceptable that in Israel, train cars are left on tracks without the operator of an arriving train knowing about them, especially if the train is transporting such hazardous materials.

"We have authority, and together with Israel’s Ministry of Transportation, we will make sure that whoever is responsible for this event will be dealt with, and we will do whatever it takes to make sure it does not happen again in the future. At issue are trains carrying hazardous materials that are traveling within close proximity to the public. The public must be safe and the environment must be safe, and we will make sure that that is how it is."