100 workers evacuated after suspected ammonia leak at northern factory
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100 workers evacuated after suspected ammonia leak at northern factory

One woman lightly injured in reported incident at Sunfrost frozen vegetable plant in Migdal Haemek

Illustrative -- Firefighters at the scene of ammonia leak, near a shopping mall in Acre, June 27, 2019 (Meir Vaknin/Flash90)
Illustrative -- Firefighters at the scene of ammonia leak, near a shopping mall in Acre, June 27, 2019 (Meir Vaknin/Flash90)

Around 100 workers were evacuated on Sunday after a suspected ammonia leak at a factory in an industrial zone of the northern city of Migdal Haemek.

One woman was lightly injured and received medical treatment at the scene, according to Hebrew media reports.

Channel 12 news reported the incident took place at the Sunfrost frozen vegetable supplier, which is part of the Tnuva group.

No information was given as to the cause of the leak.

Last year a shopping mall was evacuated and residents of some areas of Acre were told to stay indoors following an ammonia leak from a factory operated by the Strauss Group. A few days earlier, an ammonia leak at a factory in the Har Tuv industrial zone near the central city of Beit Shemesh led to the evacuation of the plant and the closure of a nearby junction.

Earlier in the year, an ammonia leak in the city of Haifa just 500 meters (550 yards) from a residential area prompted Mayor Einat Kalisch-Rotem to announce a zero-tolerance policy on industrial mishaps.

Firefighters at the scene of an ammonia leak in Acre, June 27, 2019. (Meir Vaknin/Flash90)

In 2018 a court fined Haifa Chemicals NIS 500,000 ($139,000) for having operated an ammonia tank for decades without a license, and issued a final closure order for the tank. The controversial tank had been emptied in 2017 after a High Court ruling, following a years-long struggle between the company and local residents concerned over the environmental risks.

The court decision to close the 12,000-ton-capacity tank came after local officials warned that tens of thousands of people could die should it rupture, and that even more would be at risk if a monthly delivery ship that brought ammonia to the tank from abroad were to be hit by a missile. The Lebanon-based terror group Hezbollah had in the past threatened to target the tank with rockets in any future conflict with Israel.

Ammonia, while not highly flammable in itself, can explode if containers are exposed to high heat.

Ammonium nitrate, the cause of the massive explosion in Beirut this month, is created from the reaction of ammonia with nitric acid.

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