The Green Police of the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MoEP) is investigating an oil spill in southern Israel, after a pipeline burst, causing crude oil to gush out and damaging a nature reserve in the area. The pipeline, which carries oil between Eilat and Ashkelon, was breached on Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014, during construction work in Be’er Ora, near Eilat. The MoEP, which conducted an assessment of the situation on Thursday afternoon, has recommended that the Eilat municipality cancel a triathlon competition scheduled for the weekend in the sections of the area that have been affected by the spill. Meantime, crews on the ground are pumping the oil deposits in an effort to stop the spill and to prevent the oil from entering Jordan.
MoEP officials who arrived at the area shortly after receiving reports of the leak found that millions of liters of crude oil had already spilled, and had traveled several kilometers.
Crude oil can contaminate land, release hazardous gas, and harm flora and fauna, and can be a health concern. The ministry’s Green Police have established a special investigation team that will work with other agencies and authorities to determine whether the spill could have been prevented and to review how it is being treated.
Management of the Eilat Ashkelon Pipeline Company (EAPC) say the cleanup work will continue throughout the weekend. They estimate that rehabilitation of the Evrona Nature Reserve, which was in the path of the oil and has suffered severe damage, will take many months. The reserve is one of the most important ones in the Arava region; it is home to the northernmost Egyptian Doum palm trees in the world and to an extensive deer population. An initial inspection found that the trees are not in danger at this point.