Massive Crude Oil Spill Stops Traffic on Route 4 Near Haifa

30-40 tons of oil spill on road between Haifa and Tira; pipe belongs to Eilat Ashkelon Pipeline Co. Ltd.

An oil pipe split open on Monday evening near the southern entrance to Haifa, causing 30-40 tons of crude oil to spill on Route 4.

The pipe, belonging to the Eilat Ashkelon Pipeline Co. Ltd., carries oil from the Ashdod port to oil refineries in Haifa.

Following the incident, Route 4 was blocked off between Matam Junction in southern Haifa and the northern entrance to Tira. The road reopened to traffic roughly two hours later. No injuries were reported in the incident.

The pipe that split open is 16 inches in diameter, and buried 1.5 meters underground. On Monday evening, the oil company's control room discovered a drop in the pressure of the flow of oil, and the Haifa refinery closed its pump.

The pipe's flow of oil was cut off following the spill, and rescue teams - including fire investigators, Environmental Protection Ministry inspectors and Tira municipality officials - came to the site to attempt to cover the spill with sand.

The company's pipe maintenance team was called to the scene and began digging at the spot where the pipe is estimated to have split. Cleanup crews are expected to spend most of Monday night cleaning the spill.

It is still unclear what caused the pipe to split open, as well as the exact origin of the spill.

Hezi Levy, spokesman for the Haifa District fire department, said that the damage caused was primarily ecological, and that there didn't seem to be any danger of major fires.

Eilat Ashkelon Pipeline Co. Ltd. supplies roughly 60 percent of crude oil consumed by the Haifa refinery