Inspectors assess damage caused by huge acid spill in Judean Desert
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Inspectors assess damage caused by huge acid spill in Judean Desert

Nature and Parks Authority officials work to distance animals from zone hit by deluge of toxic waste

The muddy Ashalim stream flowing on Friday, June 30 2017 after acidic water leaked from a fertilizer plant nearby. (Environment Protection Ministry)
The muddy Ashalim stream flowing on Friday, June 30 2017 after acidic water leaked from a fertilizer plant nearby. (Environment Protection Ministry)

Inspectors from the Israel Nature and Parks Authority were working Saturday to determine the scope of the ecological damage caused by an acid waste leak into Nahal Ashalim in the southern Judean Desert.

Environmental experts collected samples from the soil of the stream, and began mapping out the area affected by the leakage of acid waste from a pool used by the Rotem Fertilizers plant after one of its walls collapsed on Friday

The acid flowed toward Route 90 and the Dead Sea. Police closed off a section of the road for part of Friday evening to enable authorities to tackle the flow of acid.

“At the moment, we are focusing on teams that are moving on foot in the riverbeds to sample the water throughout the sections of the stream, so that we can get a sense of the water’s [condition],” Gilad Bar, Director of the Southern District of the Nature and Parks Authority, told Channel 10.

The teams scanned the area from the Rotem plain to the Ashalim reservoir adjacent to Route 90, a nearly 20-kilometer-long strip, Channel 2 reported.

Initial findings suggested that the flow of waste reached a height of up to 4 meters in some of the stream channels, more than a normal flood level in that area, according to Channel 2.

Members of the Nature and Parks Authority were also working to distance animals from the infected zones.

The authority told hikers not to come to the area “until further notice.”

The company that owns Rotem Fertilizers, Israel Chemicals, said that the breach in the pool was discovered Friday morning. “At this stage the company cannot assess the environmental impact of the leak,” Israel Chemicals said.

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