04/06/2017

Ministry Extends Poison Permit for Haifa Ammonia Tank in Accordance with High Court Decision
 
 
The Ministry of Environmental Protection (MoEP) has extended the poison permit for the ammonia tank in Haifa until July 31, 2017. The ministry temporarily renewed the permit, which expired on June 1st, in accordance with a Supreme Court decision that gave Haifa Chemicals, owner of the storage facility, until the end of July to close the tank. The company cannot import more ammonia until then. The MoEP will seek clarification from the court with regard to the date by which the tank must be completely emptied.


​The Supreme Court ruled on May 28, 2017 that the ammonia tank must be emptied by July 31st, due to the potential risk to the public, in the case of a leak or an attack on the facility. In order to actualize that decision, the MoEP has taken and/or will take the following steps:

  1. The MoEP temporarily renewed Haifa Chemicals’ poison permit for the tank until July 31st, while freezing the status quo and prohibiting any further imports of ammonia into the tank.
  2. The government will ask the Supreme Court to clarify whether the order to empty the tank means bringing the ammonia to the level of the pumps – which is its current level – or completely emptying it. Completely emptying the tank would take a long time due to the safety precautions that would be required to do so.
  3. In accordance with the Supreme Court’s order that it receive a report on short and long term alternatives to having an ammonia tank in Haifa Bay, the MoEP is continuing to re-examine its positions regarding the potential alternatives. As of now, however, the position the ministry presented to the court stands.
  4. After receiving clarification from the Supreme Court, and after a review of the plan to empty the ammonia tank, which was submitted to the court, the MoEP will update Haifa Chemicals’ poison permit if it is deemed necessary.

 

The government published a tender for the construction of an ammonia factory in southern Israel. This would have provided a solution for the supply of ammonia to Israeli companies while allowing for the closure of the Haifa facility, which is located in a populated area and poses a safety risk to nearby residents. However, despite the financial benefits being offered, no company had sent in a bid to build such a plant by the November 2016 deadline.

Learn more about hazardous materials in Haifa Bay.