Ministry: Sewage Spill Under Ayalon Would Wreak Traffic Havoc

The Environmental Protection Ministry has warned that a massive sewage spill may cause paralysis for weeks to the transportation system that runs along the Ayalon Freeway.

Senior ministry officials held a meeting with Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan over the weekend, during which they voiced serious concern about the possibility of sewage seeping from a central pipe that runs under the Ayalon Freeway. They asked the minister to assist them in forming an emergency response plan for countering such an eventuality.

On the previous day, officials from various ministry branches in the Tel Aviv district held a meeting to deal with the issue.

One of the main sewerage pipes of the Dan Region, known as "C", passes under the Ayalon Freeway and the parallel railroad tracks. The 1.6-meter diameter pipe is approximately seven kilometers long.

"This pipe was expected to function for 50 years, but it has been more than 50 years since it was laid," deputy director at the Environmental Protection Ministry, Gil Yaniv, told the minister.

Several months ago, workers of Igudan ("the Dan region association of towns for infrastructure and environment") found cracks in the northern portion of the pipe and carried out repairs along a 300-meter section.

One of the sections where cracks were found in the pipe is located under the Arlozorov railroad station. "At this time there are no leaks, probably because the pipe is wrapped in soil that is water-resistant," Yaniv explained. "But at a later stage there can certainly be leaks," he added.

Ministry officials informed the minister that it is impossible to replace portions of the pipe that lie below the freeway or the railway tracks, since there is no access to them. "The train track should not have been built on top of the sewerage pipe, but permission was granted many years ago," explained Yitzhak Ben David, deputy director of enforcement at the ministry.

"If there is a leak they will have to fix the section of the pipe where there is a problem, which means that in order to gain access it will be necessary to stop train activity, and possibly also traffic on the highway," Yaniv said.

A flow of sewage is also expected to cause serious environmental damage to the Yarkon River and beaches.