Text size

The special committee appointed in the wake of the jet fuel contamination affair that grounded the country's flights a month ago still has not identified the contaminant or its source. The committee, which was appointed by Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau, published its interim report yesterday.

The affair began at the beginning of May, when a mysterious substance clogged the filters of the fuel pipes at Ben-Gurion International Airport.

The report says the laboratories that tested samples of the contaminant are divided over whether it is a biodiesel, which is not supposed to come in contact with jet fuel.

Biodiesel is imported by the Haifa Oil Refineries, which uses it to dilute diesel fuel for export to Europe.

Two laboratories said the substance was biodiesel, raising suspicions that the filters could have been clogged by biodiesel that had leaked out of one of the refineries.

Another three laboratories disagreed with that finding. Therefore, samples were sent to biodiesel laboratories in the Czech Republic and the United Kingdom.

However, all the labs agreed on one thing: The samples contained metals, mainly iron, and glass fibers. These substances were found along with polyethylene in a filter inside the airport, which suggests that the jet fuel infrastructure within the airport may have been contaminated as well. Paz Aviation Assets is responsible for these pipes.

The committee said that while it could not conclude why the contamination occurred, it did offer some recommendations for working procedures. The committee pointed out that recommendations following a similar 2005 incident had not been fully implemented or enforced.

Yet the committee hedged its accusations, saying it was "sure that on some points there's room for improvement, but not sure that these improvements would have sufficed to prevent this incident."