Haifa Chemicals Weighing Ammonia Tank Alternatives

Company wants to continue importing the chemical and operating the controversial tank at one-third its capacity.

The ammonia tank in Haifa
The ammonia tank is dangerous near residential areas of Haifa. Hagay Frid

The furor over the closure of the Haifa Chemicals ammonia tank hasn’t died down, even after the Haifa District Court ordered it emptied by April 1.

Even though the government has said publicly that the only thing left is for the 12,000-ton tank to be emptied by the court’s deadline, it has also been entertaining proposals by the company to resume the imports and even operate the tank, albeit not at full capacity.

TheMarker has learned that the latest proposal made by Haifa Chemicals, a closely held company, calls for allowing the giant tank to be filled with up to 4,000 tons of ammonia at any given time, a third of the amount it has been holding.

The city won an injunction last month ordering the tank emptied and shut down after a team of experts warned of the risks to the area if the tank were to be damaged.

The Haifa municipality, meanwhile, has offered three alternatives for ensuring that industry gets a supply of ammonia.

One calls for importing 20 tons of the chemical daily through the Jordanian port of Aqaba, transshipping it to Eilat and then trucking it to Haifa. Another calls for importing nitric acid, a byproduct of ammonia used by Haifa Chemicals to producer fertilizers, with the ship delivering the chemical to serve in effect as a tank holding no more than 600 tons. A third calls for deliveries of ammonia to Haifa or Ashdod ports, where it would be delivered by truck directly to users.

All the options would reduce the city’s vulnerability, but would increase Haifa Chemicals’ costs.