Three people died and five were wounded as
the result of a gas leak at the Haifa refinery on Tuesday night.
The victims who died have been identified as cousins George Za'atrah, 31, and
Tamer Marjiah, 33, and Tamer al-Haj, 18, all residents of Yafia near Nazareth.
The gas leak was contained shortly after the incident, a spokesman for the
Earlier in the day, bromine leaked out of a storage container at the refinery.
The leak was quickly found and plugged. Bromine is an extremely hazardous material
which has the potential to cause serious injury and death.
mum on oil, gas rules
Bromine is mined in the Dead Sea and then mostly transported to the Haifa Port
for shipment overseas. Some of it goes to Ramat Hovav for domestic use. If a
transport container were to break open, the corrosive material would eat into
the ground and contaminate ground water and destroy infrastructure.
Moreover, a serious spill could kill anywhere from 6,500 to 350,000 people,
according to Environmental Protection Ministry estimates. The Knesset has
recently begun looking into the transport of bromine from the Dead Sea. Most of
the shipments go to the Haifa Port through five population centers instead of
to the far closer and less populated route to the Ashdod port.
Meanwhile, down south, a small leak was discovered in the container of a truck
carrying 21 tons of bromine to the Ramat Hovav Industrial Park on Tuesday
afternoon. The leak was discovered at 12:30 p.m. and treated by 1:30 p.m. by
the Ramat Hovav environmental unit in conjunction with the southern district
office of the Environmental Protection Ministry.
No one was injured and an investigation has been launched to see if any of the
protocols for transporting the material were violated.
Global Community Monitor trained neighbors of the refinery to form their own bucket
brigade in October 2010. A new group called KESEM (Hebrew for magic) has been
formed to promote bucket brigades throughout Israel.
Jpost.com staff contributed to this