Aqaba spill dumps 200 tons of crude oil into Red Sea

Israel closely following the incident, Environmental Protection Ministry says, though no immediate threat seen to Eilat beaches

Aqaba seen from Eilat. (Aviad2001/Wikipedia/CC BY 2.5)
Aqaba seen from Eilat. (Aviad2001/Wikipedia/CC BY 2.5)

A burst pipe at Jordan’s port of Aqaba has spilled at least 200 tons of crude oil into the Red Sea, Israel’s foreign and environmental protection ministries said Tuesday.

A joint statement from both ministries said Israel had contacted Jordanian officials to offer assistance with cleaning up the spill.

Environment Minister Ze’ev Elkin and Foreign Ministry Director General Dore Gold approved the offer to supply Israeli equipment and manpower to help clean-up efforts, but the Jordanians were currently “handling the incident themselves,” the statement said.

Erez Halfon, chairman of the company that runs Israel’s Eilat-Ashkelon oil pipeline, wrote to Jordanian authorities to urge them to accept the assistance of the company’s engineers, who he said had the skills and training to contain the spill.

Environmental Protection Ministry officials were closely monitoring the leak’s possible impact on Israel’s adjacent beach city of Eilat, but did not note any immediate threat to Israeli beaches.

In 2014, in what was described as the worst ecological disaster in Israel’s history, a portion of the Trans-Israel pipeline that runs from Israel’s Mediterranean coast to Eilat exploded, spilling five million liters of crude oil into the Evrona nature reserve. The explosion happened as workers labored to move the pipe in order to accommodate the construction of a new international airport being built just north of Israel’s southernmost city.

In November, a two-day joint Israeli-Jordanian oil spill drill took place in the Gulf of Eilat.

The Ministry of Environmental Protection’s Marine Environment Protection Division conducted the exercise with Jordanian marine authorities, the Israel Navy and other partners. They simulated a 50-ton fuel oil spill during the unloading of a cargo ship in the northern part of the Gulf.

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