Israel Airports Authority Inquiry Finds Bacteria, Mold in Contaminated Fuel

Airports Authority demands that Paz Oil explain why they sent documents saying fuel was fine when it in fact turned out to be contaminated.

The Israel Airport Authority demanded on Monday that the Paz Oil Company explain why they sent documents saying that their oil was fine, when it in fact turned out to be contaminated.

The subsequent fallout over the contaminated jet fuel last week led to a crisis at Ben-Gurion International Airport, with flights delayed and canceled. The contaminated fuel continues to affect domestic flight schedules.

Ben-Gurion Airport, jet-fuel crisis, passengers
Gil Cohen-Magen

When the airport authority checked the fuel at an outside lab, they found bacteria and mold in the contaminated fuel, and also in several fuel filters.

Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz announced at a conference for authorities involved to decide on the future use of the fuel identified as tainted.

A month after suspicions arose that the jet fuel being delivered to aircraft at the airport was contaminated, Israel is for the first time considering the possibility of seeking foreign assistance to identify the contaminant.

Keen to discover the circumstances behind the contamination, the National Infrastructure Ministry established a committee of inquiry which has contacted three chemical laboratories abroad to discuss testing the fatty black substance found in the fuel. Another option is to use the laboratories at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot.

On Friday a chemical laboratory for the U.S. Air Force in Frankfurt refused to test the material that Israeli firm Paz Oil sent to them. They argued that the laboratory does not test material for private clients.

Paz Oil owns the refinery in Ashdod and is responsible for the flow of aviation fuel to Ben-Gurion International Airport.

On Saturday the company asked the National Infrastructure Ministry for assistance in convincing the Americans to test the samples. Officials expressed reservations in doing so, arguing that it would be irregular to interfere in a private matter, particularly when there are issues of liability involved. The matter has been relayed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for further assistance.

The examination of the mysterious substance is meant to identify its composition and arrive at conclusions regarding the potential damage it can cause. It also needs to discover the process that actually leads to its formation, and its prevalence in the national fuel supply.