In the wake of the massive explosion that tore through a fertilizer plant in the U.S. state of Texas Wednesday night, April 17, Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz says it is time to empty the ammonia tank in Haifa Bay, and move it to the south, where it will pose less danger. At Peretz’ urging, the matter will be discussed at a meeting of the National Security Council in the Prime Minister’s Office on Sunday.
More than 100 people were injured and an unknown number of people killed when the blast went off at the factory near a residential area in Texas.
Minister Peretz: "Each moment that huge amounts of ammonia are being stored near the public poses a danger. We must recognize the explosion in Texas as a warning. We must not accept the presence of the ammonia tank in Haifa Bay as a given. I saw the tank during a visit to Haifa recently, and I heard the explanations of why it remains there. But we must stop with the explanations and instead, empty the tank as soon as possible. All the stakeholders must understand that there is a lot of work to be done in very little time. There is no excuse that can justify the continuation of this dangerous situation, and today, more than ever before, we have the opportunity to put an end to the situation, thanks to the natural gas that is flowing into Israel."
The Ministry of Environmental Protection has already notified Haifa Chemicals Ltd. that by the year 2017, it must either cease operating its facility or move it to the south. That would decrease the danger, since most of the company’s customers are located in the south. Thus, trucks carrying the hazardous chemical would have far shorter distances to travel, which would reduce the risk to the population.
The discussion at the National Security Council on Sunday – which will focus on relocating the ammonia factor – will be led by National Security Adviser Yaakov Amidror. Also participating will be Environmental Protection Ministry director general, attorney Alona Sheafer Karo, as well as representatives from the Finance Ministry and the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor.