The improper shipping of bromine from its source at the Dead Sea to the Port of Haifa could harm at least 6,000 people, and in inclement wind conditions as many as 300,000.
These alarming statistics are included in a Knesset Research and Information Center document to be presented on Tuesday to a meeting of the parliamentary Labor, Welfare and Health Committee.
The meeting will focus on the public-health ramifications involved in transporting bromine, which is mass produced in evaporation ponds operated by the Dead Sea Works.
The ministry said the transportation of bromine, known for its volatility, limits the development of Haifa's lower tier area, since safety laws restrict the number of people allowed within a 200-meter vicinity of trains carrying the element at any given time.
The document, drafted at the panel's request, presents data collected by the Environmental Protection Ministry.
Israel is one of the world's leading producers and exporters of bromine, an element with a variety of industrial and agricultural uses, including flame retardants, extermination agents and disinfectants.
The substance is unstable, and if ingested can cause irreversible damage to the nervous and respiratory systems.
One of the questions occupying the committee is why a decision was made to transport the material to Haifa when it could have been delivered from the Dead Sea to the Port of Ashdod much more quickly.
The research center said that decision was based on the stricter regulations imposed by the environment ministry on the southern coastal port regarding the handling of dangerous substances.
Tens of thousands of tons of the element are transported by rail annually.
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