Police shut northern road after ammonia spill
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Police shut northern road after ammonia spill

Rescue workers at scene cleaning up, no danger reported to public after tanker overturns

Illustrative: Firefighters respond to an ammonia leak at a factory in Kibbutz Eilon, September 15, 2015. (Zebulon Fire Station)
Illustrative: Firefighters respond to an ammonia leak at a factory in Kibbutz Eilon, September 15, 2015. (Zebulon Fire Station)

Police closed a main road in northern Israel on Friday after a chemical tanker overturned, spilling ammonia.

Route 75 was shut to traffic from the Amakim Junction until the Yokne’am Junction, police said, adding that there was no danger to the public.

Police and fire trucks were at the scene clearing up the spill.

The incident comes amid an ongoing battle by the nearby Haifa municipality to remove a large ammonia storage tank from the city that experts warned could kill tens of thousands if it malfunctions or is hit by a Hezbollah rocket.

On Sunday the Haifa Court for Local Affairs gave the Haifa Group, a fertilizer producer that operates the tank, 10 days to empty and shut the tank. They have appealed the ruling.

The Haifa municipality submitted its petition for the facility’s closure following the publication last month of a report it commissioned that found the port city’s ammonia operations posed a serious risk to the population.

The report was also submitted to the High Court of Justice as part of a legal dispute between the Haifa Group and the municipality.

Haifa's industrial zone. The ammonia tank is visible on the jetty jutting into the sea at the right. (Shay Levy/Flash90)
Haifa’s industrial zone. The ammonia tank is visible on the jetty jutting into the sea at the right. (Shay Levy/Flash90)

If ruptured, the vast ammonia storage tank would suffocate 16,000 victims under a toxic cloud, the report said. The tank could “fall apart tomorrow morning,” said the report’s author, chemistry professor Ehud Keinan, at a press conference to release the report on January 31, held at the municipality.

But an even worse danger, the report said, is posed by a delivery ship carrying over 16,000 tons of ammonia that arrives at the Haifa container once a month. If its cargo were released to the air, it could kill as many as 600,000 in the bay area, according to the report.

Last year, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah threatened to target Haifa’s ammonia facilities with rockets in the next conflict with Israel.

He repeated the threat on Thursday.

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