Acid leak damages Israel nature preserve

Acid leak damages Israel nature preserve

An acid leak from a chemical plant in Israel’s Judean Desert may be a danger to plants, animals, and humans for years to come.

The leak from a plant, owned by Rotem Amfert, happened on Friday, June 30, after the wall of a pool containing the liquid sprung a leak. So far, the cause of the leak is unknown.

The acid spilled into Nahal Ashalim river near the Dead Sea; park officials are flushing the stream with fresh water in order to dilute it.

Gilad Gabay, director of the Southern District of the Nature and Parks Authority told local media that the spill could affect a wide area for years to come because of seepage into the groundwater.

The Times of Israel newspaper said the Nature and Parks Authority was trying to keep animals away from the affected area.

About 12 miles of the stream was affected, and the Authority warned hikers to keep away because any contact with the water would be dangerous.

Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that the fertilizer plant issued a statement saying it was cooperating with the authorities.

Workers at the plant noticed the leak Friday morning and stopped the output.

Haaretz quoted an ecologist working for the Environmental Protection Ministry as saying that the acidity of the stream water was at around 2 or 3, with seven being considered neutral. The fertilizer left the plant with an acidity level of 1, the ecologist said, and authorities are continuing to dilute the water to mitigate the damage.

Rotem Amfert states on its website that it is the largest company in Israel that mines phosphate rock and produces phosphoric acid for food and agriculture, and makes fertilizers and other chemicals.

“The company is committed to minimizing its environmental effects, to implement and maintain an Environmental Management System … and to act in order to achieve continual improvement of its environmental performance,” the company states on its website.

The Jerusalem Post reported that the  Environmental Protection Ministry had ordered the plant not to put any more refuse into its pools till it could assure that they were safe.


By Holly Kellum for NTD

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