Pipeline leak at Dead Sea Works plant pollutes surrounding area

The Israel Nature Authority said on Sunday that a leak from a supply channel from the Dead Sea Works plant in southern Nahal Tselem has caused damage to the surrounding ecosystem.

The authority said that dead plants were found and that some of them belonged to protected species.

Investigators arrived at the scene and discovered leaks east of the supply channel, which led to salinization of the soil.

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Nor will there be any sign of soil erosion.

However, the authority noted that the area was inhabited by wild animal species – fallow deer, rabbits, hyenas, foxes and rodents – meaning that wildlife could suffer from food shortages and food shortages. of plants. It did not specify whether the animals actually suffered from the consequences of the influx.

She noted that the water flow was low at the source of the leak and increased downstream. Fluid from the spill was collected at a designated location.

An aerial view of the Tselem Bees, the site affected by a spill from the Dead Sea Works, and the Dead Sea in the background, June 5, 2022 (The Nature and Parks Authority)

Drones were used to map the area and try to assess the extent of the damage, as well as to examine the possibility of further contamination. The influx will not pose a threat to the nature reserve on a larger scale, at least in the near future.

The Dead Sea Works is owned by Israel Chemicals Limited (ICL), which said it reported the leak on Saturday and started a process to fix it.

When the leak was noticed and its location was determined, it was reported to the authorities in accordance with the procedures, and its source is currently being investigated. The company said in a statement that the company is working to provide a rapid response to this leak in sea water and immediately addressed the problem.

ICL is also the parent company of ICL Rotem (formerly Rotem Amfert Negev Ltd), which caused one of the worst environmental disasters in Israel’s history when the wall of an evaporation pond collapsed on June 23, 2017, sending between 100,000 and 250 , 000 cubic meters or more of highly toxic wastewater in the Ashalim River, which is located southwest of the Dead Sea.

The Department of Environmental Protection is in contact with the Nature and Parks Authority, as well as environmental groups in the area, and is currently monitoring ICL’s operations while trying to find a way to stop the leak as quickly as possible to minimize damage. .

An aerial photo of the bees of Tselem Dead Sea Works site June 5, 2022 (Nature and Parks Authority)

The Dead Sea recedes about 1.2 meters per year. The Jordan River, historically the main source of Dead Sea water, is being diverted for agricultural and other purposes by Israel, Jordan, and Syria, countries whose populations are growing.

Despite this, the Dead Sea Company has permission to pump large amounts of water into the lake.

ICL is controlled by the Ofer family’s Israel Corporation, and is the largest holding company in Israel. The plant manufactures fertilizers, minerals and other chemicals from bromide, phosphate, magnesium and potash extracted from the Dead Sea or elsewhere in the Negev Desert.

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