Emergency Committee Formed to Investigate Fuel Contamination

Israel Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz says committee will look into the contamination, advise how to proceed; for interim jet-fuel to be transferred to Ben-Gurion airport from emergency tanks so flights can resume.

Israel Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz formed an emergency inspection committee on Thursday, led by his head of office Dan Harel, to look into the fuel contamination that has halted all flights departing Ben-Gurion Airport.

In addition to the formation of the committee, jet-fuel is currently being transferred from Israeli emergency gas tanks to the airport in Lod in a bid to resume outgoing flights.

Transportation minister Yisrael Katz.
Ofer Vaknin

Katz arrived at Ben-Gurion airport Thursday to discuss the contamination, telling the media that "a serious problem was discovered today in the fueling of airplanes departing from Ben Gurion Airport. It was therefore decided to ground the airplanes and begin inspections immediately."

The transportation lamented the severity of the situation, saying "this is a very serious issue. I have instructed that an inspection committee be created immediately, led by the head of my office, that will look into the incident and advise on how to proceed in the next few days."

Katz explained that for the interim, jet-fuel would be transferred to the airport from emergency tanks in Pi Glilot so that the grounded planes can depart as soon as possible. He said that the contaminated gas is being contained and planes are being fueled with enough gas to reach Cypress, where they can fill their tanks to capacity and continue to their intended destination.

Katz said that seven of the delayed planes will not take off Thursday night, and that passengers will be notified of further developments.

The transportation minister clarified that "there was never any doubt regarding the safety of passengers, and all fuel inside planes is not contaminated." He added that the contaminated gas was discovered on Thursday, prompting the immediate halting of all flights.

The symptoms of the contaminated jet fuel which stopped flights out of Ben-Gurion International Airport on Thursday were also seen in recent weeks in buses and trucks across Israel, TheMarker reported.

The contaminated fuel contains unidentified greasy liquid parts that get stuck in the filter of gas pipelines, damaging the tank of the vehicle.

The biological Institute in Nes Tziona was summoned a few days ago to take samples at a fuel terminal in Israel's central region.

The halting of departures and rerouting of foreign airliners in need of refueling is expected to cause massive flight delays, and has left thousands of passengers stranded.