In Pictures: 5 Million Liters of Crude Oil Spill in Israel's Desert

It now emerges that oil spill was more than three times the original estimate of 1.5 million liters.

Avi Bar-Eli
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Avi Bar-Eli

The volume of crude oil that spilled into the Arava Desert last week is 60 percent larger than the amount that was originally reported, the company responsible for the pipeline acknowledged on Sunday night.

Some five million liters of crude escaped the pipeline last Thursday, the Eilat Ashkelon Pipeline Company said in a report to the Environmental Protection Ministry on Sunday.

The company originally reported a leak of between 1 million and 1.5 million liters. It subsequently raised its estimate to 3 million liters.

"We were skeptical about the figures provided by the company from the start," a ministry official said on Monday morning.

The new figures increase the suspicion that the flow in the pipeline was not immediately halted as soon as the leak was discovered, significantly increasing the extent of the spill.

State Comptroller Yosef Shapira has ordered an investigation into the spill.

The pipeline company further reported that that some 2 million liters of crude had been siphoned from the desert until Sunday and some 13,000 tons of polluted soil removed.

Dams are being built to prevent the flow of the oil into the Gulf of Eilat in the event of rains in the Arava.