22/03/2016
Dimona train crash, March 14, 2016 Photo: Guy Samet
MoEP Begins Criminal Probe into Israeli Railways Bromine Leak
Dimona train crash, March 14, 2016
Photo: Guy Samet
Israel Railways has been instructed to submit to the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MoEP) its recommendations for a short-term plan to improve its hazardous materials safety system. The train company has 48 hours to submit the short-term plan. It will ultimately be expected to submit a comprehensive long-term plan to improve safety. Once the plan is submitted, authorities will consider whether to continue Israel Railways’ transit permit and permit to transport hazardous materials. The order to submit a safety plan comes a week after a train crash caused a bromine gas leak in the southern Israeli city of Dimona.

​On Sunday, March 20, 2016, Israeli Railways CEO Boaz Zafrir was called into the MoEP’s Southern District office for a hearing on the incident. An initial probe found that a freight train carrying bromine crashed with freight cars that were parked on the tracks. As a result of the impact, two cars carrying bromine fell off the tracks. Some 6.5 tons of the hazardous material leaked into the environment.

Monitoring carried out by the Israel Fire and Rescue Authority indicated that there were high concentrations of bromine in the air after the incident. Bromine can cause risk or harm to human life and health, and environmental damage to soil. In addition, the presence of bromine can cause water pollution and can damage flora and fauna. Due to the risks carried by bromine, there is reasonable suspicion that the incident represented a violation of the Clean Air Law and the Hazardous Materials Law.