Nahal Zin fuel leak

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The Nahal Zin fuel leak (Hebrew: אסון נחל צין‎) was a severe ecological disaster caused in June 2011 when a backhoe loader struck and ruptured an underground fuel pipeline in southern Israel. 1.5 million liters of jet fuel leaked into the surrounding soil, resulting in localized soil contamination, damage to nearby flora, and wasted fuel. It is considered the worst ecological disaster ever to befall a nature reserve in the history of the State of Israel.

Background[edit]

Nahal Zin[edit]

Eastern Nahal Zin
Nahal Zin

Nahal Zin is a 120-kilometer-long intermittent stream in Israel's Negev desert in the south of the country.[1] Its source is at Mount Hemet (918 m) and it flows generally northeast, draining into the salt pan of Sodom at the southern tip of the Dead Sea.[2] Vegetation in the vicinity of Nahal Zin is sparse, but the banks of the stream and occasional springs along the way abound in reeds, juncus, atriplex, and tamarix.[3] Due to the lack of trees, local avifauna are typically ground-breeders.[citation needed] Geologists have determined that Nahal Zin used to flow northwest and drain into the Mediterranean Sea via the Besor Stream; however, as the Jordan Rift Valley formed, it altered course dramatically and channeled its way northeast to the Dead Sea instead.[4]

Eilat Ashkelon Pipeline Company[edit]

The Eilat Ashkelon Pipeline Company operates several pipelines delivering oil and related products to and from the Port of Eilat.[5]

External images
"The damaged pipe"Ynetnews[6]
"The pipe that leaked at Nahal Zin"Haaretz[7]

On the morning of 29 June 2011, a backhoe loader was engaged in maintenance work at a point where Nahal Zin intersects one of the oil pipelines operated by the Eilat-Ashkelon Pipeline Company (EAPC). It struck and ruptured the pipeline, causing some 1.5 million liters of jet fuel to gush out for several hours and leak into the surrounding soil.[8] With an affected radius of half a kilometer around the rupture point and a depth of several meters,[9][10] fears were raised that damage to the surrounding environment would be extensive.[11] Within two weeks of the disaster, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority reported that vegetation on the Nahal Zin nature reserve had dried up.[7]

Cleanup[edit]

External images
A cleanup crew stands in a puddle of leaked fuel—Ministry of Environmental Protection (Israel)[12]

In an initial bid to contain the situation, dams were set up to impede the flow of fuel downstream and a ditch was dug in order to coax the fuel back to a single point for pumping.[13] EAPC was instructed to pump dry the puddles of jet fuel that had formed on the ground and to transfer the affected soil to a treatment plant for decontamination. Experts consulted to evaluate the extent of the damage estimated that cleaning up the area of the spill would take weeks to months, with fears that if the situation was not resolved by wintertime, rainfall would exacerbate it.[10][14] A hydrologist from the University of Haifa estimated that, should it emerge that the 25-meter-deep aquifer became polluted, it could take years for the area to be rehabilitated and cleansed of contaminants.[15]

In August the Nature and Parks Authority reported that most of the cleanup operations had been completed and that work would soon begin to restore the scenery of the area. At the same time, senior contacts in the nature preservation community told Haaretz that the scale on which earth had been removed from the vicinity of the spill was excessive and had turned it into "a mining and quarrying site". An official Nature and Parks Authority report completed in late August indicated that the rehabilitation efforts had indeed taken an ecological toll on the site and seriously disrupted the routines of local wildlife.[16]

EAPC and representatives from Israel's Ministry of the Environment held a ceremony marking the completion of cleanup efforts on 27 September. EAPC stated that it successfully restored the Nahal Zin area to its earlier state prior to the leak.[17]

Reactions[edit]

EAPC denied responsibility for the disaster, stating that the driver of the backhoe loader was there by subcontract and that an on-site park ranger had instructed him to transplant a tree. It attributed the accident to "profound incompetence" on the part of the park ranger and the driver.[18][19]

Israel's Ministry of the Environment called the disaster the worst ever on an Israeli nature reserve.[12] A spokeswoman for the ministry said that no automatic safety valves were ever installed as a precaution should a leak occur, and further charged EAPC with failing to ensure that it had vehicles capable of negotiating the terrain fast enough to deal with the leak before the fuel had a chance to be absorbed by the soil.[19]

The chairman of the Knesset Environment and Health Committee urged the government to adopt his recommendation for a revised Petroleum Law and radically alter its approach to fossil fuel-related environmental protection.[8]

A spokeswoman for Greenpeace in Israel called the disaster "a large, black flag" for Israel and said more needed to be done to end Israel's reliance on oil and to promote renewable energy alternatives.[8]

Israel's Green Movement co-chairman at Ben-Gurion University accused Israel's infrastructural institutions of being derelict both in protecting the nation's natural resources and in ensuring that adequate measures are in place for immediate cleanup efforts when they become necessary.[18]

Second leak[edit]

On 5 September 2011 an EAPC pipeline was again ruptured as a result of maintenance work. A backhoe loader struck the pipeline at a location half a kilometer south of where the first leak occurred in June.[20] EAPC workers promptly arrived at the scene and began sealing the pipeline. By evening, efforts were being undertaken to pump the leaked fuel out of the riverbed.[21] The Ministry of Environmental Protection estimated that 100 m³ of jet fuel had leaked from the pipe.[22] Minister Gilad Erdan called EAPC's actions "careless" and said he intends to demand that the EAPC Law, currently granting immunity to the company in environmental matters, be revised in order that EAPC may be held accountable for its actions.[23]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Nahal Zin, Ein Avdat". BiblePlaces.com. Retrieved 8 July 2011. The Nahal Zin is 75 miles (120 km) long and drains 600 sq. miles (1550 sq. km). 
  2. ^ Hareuveni, Imanuel (1985). "The South and the Mediterranean Sea". Nature Reserves in Israel (in Hebrew) (2nd ed.). Israel: Ministry of Defense. p. 433. ISBN 965-05-0193-2. ראשיתו למרגלות הר חמת, כ-1 ק"מ צפ' לשפתו המע' של מכתש רמון, כ-6 ק"מ דר'-מע' מן השמורה. נשפך אל מלחת סדום באזור הבתרונות של חוואר הלשון. 
  3. ^ Gal, Ofira (1998). "Nahal Zin" [Scenery and rock formations – HaBesor Stream, Paran Stream, Peratzim Stream, and Zin Stream]. נוף ומסלע - נחל הבשור, נחל פארן, נחל פרצים ונחל צין (in Hebrew). The Center for Educational Technology (Israel). Retrieved 12 July 2011. אזור עין עבדת והמשך ערוץ הנחל משופעים בצמחייה הכוללת, בין היתר, צמחי קנה, סמר, מלוח ואשלים. 
  4. ^ Yair Peled; Hezi Yitzhak. מהמדרשה לחצבה לאורך נחל צין (in Hebrew). BeOfen Aher. Retrieved 11 July 2011. בעבר לפני היווצרות בקע ים המלח הוא זרם אל הים התיכון בתוואי של נחל הבשור, אך עם היווצרות בסיס הסחיפה הנמוך של בקע ים המלח הוא שינה את מהלכו באופן דרמטי לכיוון מזרח. שנוי זה מתבטא ע"י "הברך" המפורסמת שלו בסמוך למפגש עם נחל חווארים. 
  5. ^ "Pipelines". Eilat Ashkelon Pipeline Co. Ltd. Retrieved 8 July 2011. There are three separate pipelines for crude oil and one for distillates: See Pipelines Map. 
  6. ^ Darel, Yael (7 July 2011). "Leak causes Negev's worst ever environmental disaster". Ynetnews. Retrieved 13 July 2011. The Environmental Protection Ministry estimated Wednesday that no less than one million liters of jet fuel leaked out of the Eilat-Ashkelon pipeline at the Nahal Zin nature reserve in the south causing the worst damage ever witnessed at an Israeli nature reserve. 
  7. ^ a b Zafrir, Rinat (12 July 2011). הזיהום בנחל צין: הצמחייה מתה, המעיינות בסכנה [Nahal Zin infection: vegetation dead, springs in danger]. Haaretz (in Hebrew). Retrieved 11 August 2014. במהלך הדיון ציין מנהל מחוז דרום ברשות הטבע והגנים, רביב שפירא, כי הצמחייה בשמורה התייבשה לאחר הזיהום שנגרם. [During the hearing, the director of the Southern District of the NPA, Raviv Shapira, the dried vegetation in the reserve after the infection caused.] 
  8. ^ a b c Udasin, Sharon (30 June 2011). "Tractor causes 1.5-million-liter jet fuel spill in Negev". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 8 July 2011. A tractor struck a portion of the Eilat-Ashkelon Pipeline during pipe rehabilitation work on Wednesday morning, causing over 1.5 million liters of jet fuel oil to spill into Nahal Zin and the surrounding Negev nature reserve. 
  9. ^ Yanir Yagna; Zafrir Rinat (30 June 2011). "Jet fuel leak could endanger animals in Negev reserve". Haaretz. Retrieved 8 July 2011. The fuel reached up to half a kilometer away from the damaged section of pipeline. 
  10. ^ a b הזיהום בנחל צין עודנו מפגע סביבתי [Nahal Zin pollution still an environmental hazard]. Dromi (in Hebrew). 10 July 2011. Retrieved 12 July 2011. מדובר על כ-500 מטר זיהום לאורך ומבחינת העומק שזה חלחל מדובר על מספר מטרים. 
  11. ^ Darel, Yael (29 June 2011). "Major gas leak in Negev pipeline". Ynetnews. Retrieved 8 July 2011. Raviv Shapira, southern director at the Nature and Parks Authority estimated that the leak has caused serious ecological damage to the nature reserve and the wadi. 
  12. ^ a b "Jet fuel leaks in Israeli nature preserve". United Press International (Jerusalem). 7 July 2011. Retrieved 8 July 2011. The EPM said the spill caused the worst damage ever witnessed at an Israeli nature reserve. 
  13. ^ אירוע פריצת דלק בקו קצא"א בקטע חציית נחל צין [Fuel eruption incident at EAPC line and Nahal Zin crossing] (in Hebrew). Ministry of the Environment (Israel). 30 June 2011. Retrieved 10 July 2011. יש לציין, כי חלק מהדלק שנשפך מהצינור נאגר בשלוליות לאורך קילומטר וחלקו חלחל לקרקע. על מנת למנוע המשך זרימה בתוואי הנחל בוצעו בשלב הראשון של האירוע חסימות במורד הנחל ובהמשך נחפרה תעלה עמוקה המנקזת את הזרימה בתת הקרקע לנקודה מסוימת, לצורך שאיבת הדלק למיכליות. 
  14. ^ "'Negev oil spill: Israel‍ '​s worst environmental disaster'". The Jerusalem Post. 7 July 2011. Retrieved 9 July 2011. EAPC was shuttled in to pump the remaining fuel puddles from the ground. Now, workers will have to transfer polluted soil to a nearby treatment center. 
  15. ^ Toker, Benny (29 June 2011). 'יעברו שנים עד ששמורת נחל צין תתאושש' ['Years will pass before the Nahal Zin reserve recovers']. Arutz Sheva (in Hebrew). Retrieved 16 July 2011. ד"ר גרינבאום מעריך שייקח שנים עד שהשמורה תשוקם. 
  16. ^ Rinat, Zafrir (31 August 2011). טענות נגד שיקום נחל צין: העבודות גרמו דווקא לנזקים [Complaints against Nahal Zin rehabilitation: work actually caused damage]. Haaretz (in Hebrew). Retrieved 11 August 2014. 
  17. ^ Yedidya, Ben-Or (27 September 2011). 'התחייבנו והשבנו את נחל צין לקדמותו' ['We pledged to restor Nahal Zin to its earlier state']. Arutz Sheva (in Hebrew). Retrieved 12 October 2011. מחברת קצא"א נמסר, כי בשיתוף פעולה מלא ובהנחיית משרד איכות הסביבה ורשות הטבע והגנים, בסופו של תהליך דאגה החברה להשיב את נחל צין לקדמותו. 
  18. ^ a b Udasin, Sharon (8 July 2011). "Nahal Zin operations halted following huge oil spill". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 8 July 2011. Green Movement Co-Chairman Prof. Alon Tal of Ben-Gurion University said that the event was a testament to the problematic administration of Israel’s big infrastructural bodies in general. 
  19. ^ a b Lavi, Aviv (22 July 2011). הבהלה לזהב: טלנובלת דלק בנחל צין [The gold rush: a soap opera of fuel at Nahal Zin]. Nrg Maariv (in Hebrew). Retrieved 24 July 2011. 'שות הטבע והגנים, ואמר לשופליסט להעתיק עץ ממקומו. בגלל טמטום גדול של הפקח ושל השופליסט הוא הכניס את הכף עמוק מדי וגרם פיצוץ'. 
  20. ^ Ben David, Lior (5 September 2011). בפעם השנייה: דליפת דלק בנחל צין [For the second time: fuel leak at Nahal Zin]. Calcalist (in Hebrew). Retrieved 6 September 2011. הצינור נפגע על ידי טרקטור שעסק בעבודות השיפוץ כ-500 מ' דרומית מהמקום שבו נפגע בפעם הקודמת. 
  21. ^ Rinat, Zafrir (5 September 2011). דליפה נוספת מצינור דלק בשמורת נחל צין [Another leak from a fuel pipeline at the Nahal Zin Preserve]. Haaretz (in Hebrew). Retrieved 6 September 2011. 
  22. ^ Shani, Rami (5 September 2011). "דליפת דלק נוספת בנחל צין: 'רשלנות פושעת'". Walla! News (in Hebrew). Retrieved 6 September 2011. מהמשרד להגנת הסביבה נמסר בתגובה כי על פי ההערכות כ-100 קוב דלק סילוני זרמו לשמורה. 
  23. ^ Darel, Yael (5 September 2011). שוב התפוצץ צינור נפט של קצא"א בנחל צין [An EAPC pipeline has again ruptured at Nahal Zin]. Nrg Maariv (in Hebrew). Retrieved 6 September 2011. 

External links[edit]