Authority Fears Jet Fuel Pollution at Nahal Zin Will Spread

Water Authority ordered Eilat-Ashkelon Pipeline Company to drill several deep shafts in Negev nature reserve to determine if remaining fuel could spread.

Work to remove earth that was polluted in June's jet fuel spill at the Nahal Zin nature reserve in the Negev was completed last week, yet the Water Authority has expressed continued concern that fuel deep underground could still pollute existing water sources, noting that at last half of the spilled jet fuel remains underground. It has therefore ordered the Eilat-Ashkelon Pipeline Company - which maintains the fuel line that was damaged in June, causing the spill - to drill several deep shafts to determine whether remaining fuel could spread.

In the course of repair work following the initial spill, two additional spills were caused by earth-moving equipment following additional pipeline damage. Eilat-Ashkelon Pipeline has removed 30,000 cubic meters of earth from a depth of ten meters and a length of nearly half a kilometer, and replaced it with a similar amount of soil from elsewhere.

A quantity of clean water has been found underground at the site, and the Water Authority has expressed concern that flooding caused by rainfall could cause the remaining jet fuel to pollute the clean water at the site, as well as underground springs in the area. The Water Authority ordered the test drilling to gauge the extent of the risk, and also ordered Eilat-Ashkelon Pipeline to develop a plan to monitor the underground fuel in order to head off further pollution of water sources.

The Environmental Protection Ministry and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority have also expressed concern that further repair work on the pipeline could cause additional pollution and damage to the landscape.