Acid from Rotem Amfert flowing into and polluting Ashalim Stream Photo: Oded Nezer
An ecological disaster in the Judean Desert, where the wall of a reservoir collapsed on Friday, June 30, 2017, sending 100,00 cubic meters of acid flowing into Ashalim Stream. The reservoir, or evaporation pond, near Route 90, belongs to the Rotem Fertilizer plant, a Rotem Amfert Negev company. The incident left the the Ashalim stream polluted. The Ministry of Environmental Protection and its Green Police have been on the ground, at the scene, since the incident.
Below is a timeline of events, including the latest updates (starting from the bottom). You can also find current updates, photos, and videos on the MoEP’s Facebook page (Hebrew only) and Twitter feed (Hebrew only): @SvivaMinistry.
Monday, July 3, 2017
The MoEP has launched a criminal investigation against managers from Rotem Amfert and its parent company, Israel Chemicals Ltd. This after a hearing was held at the MoEP’s Southern District office, headed by Baruch Weber.
The Ministry’s Green Police will lead the probe, which will include series of investigative actions against corporate officers.
During the hearing, ways in which the Rotem Fertilizers plant could refrain from activities that could cause additional environmental damage were examined. It should be noted that the MoEP ordered the immediate discontinuance of the use of evaporation ponds 1 to 3, where the collapse occurred. The MoEP has ordered the use of a temporary pond until it is satisfied that the factory’s operations will not create additional environmental hazards.
Sunday, July 2, 2017
19:00 The MoEP has summoned Rotem Amfert to a hearing and has issued two warnings against the companies. The hearing will take place in the Ministry’s Southern District office on Monday, July 3, 2017.
- Summons to hearing (Hebrew only)
- Warning issued, in accordance with the 1993 Hazardous Materials Law (Hebrew only)
- Warning issued, in accordance with the Licensing of Business Law and Water Law and Regulations (Hebrew only)
10:00 The deep troughs at the bottom of Ashalim Stream are still filled with acidic water. The Rotem Amfert plant is being ordered to pump them and to immediately begin to rehabilitate the stream.
Acidity monitoring indicates a high level of acid throughout the stream’s channel.
The area remains closed.
The MoEP and its Green Police have been conducting an investigation since the spill – mapping the damage and collecting samples from the stream’s soil. Rotem Amfert has been ordered to halt operations of the relevant reservoir and to stop the sewage flow. Its managers will be summoned to a hearing and the MoEP is considering whether to launch a criminal investigation against the company.
Friday, June 30, 2017
18:00 MoEP representatives, including members of the Green Police, are investigating the wall collapse, and are collecting facts and evidence. Some 100 cubic meters of acidic wastewater have already leaded from the pool.
The MoEP has ordered Rotem Fertilizers to halt usage of the pools, until the Ministry is certain a similar event will not happen again.
The MoEP will demand that Rotem begin rehabilitation of the reservoir immediately.
15:00 Wall of a Rotem Amfert Negev reservoir pool has collapsed. The reservoir belongs to Rotem Fertilizers plant, located east of Highway 258. The plant operates several evaporation ponds for gypsum flow, which contain highly acidic wastewater.
The pond contains tens of thousands of cubic meters of wastewater. Some of it flowed into another pond, while a significant portion is flowing toward Ashalim Stream.
Dead Sea Works is preparing to absorb the wastewater to the Ashalim reservoir. Flow is heading toward Highway 90 and Dead Sea, but has not reached there at this stage.
Professionals from the MoEP and the Negev Mizrahi Towns Association are on the ground, investigating the circumstances surrounding the incident. They will take measures as necessary.