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Authorities complain pumping renewed without coordination in area of leak near Dead Sea

Sue Surkes is The Times of Israel's environment reporter.

Aerial photo of Nahal Tze'elim, the site of a Dead Sea Works leak, June 5, 2022. (Nature and Parks Authority)
Aerial photo of Nahal Tze'elim, the site of a Dead Sea Works leak, June 5, 2022. (Nature and Parks Authority)

The Environmental Protection Ministry and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority complain that the ICL manufacturing company has informed them – without prior coordination — that it is renewing the flow of Dead Sea water in a portion of the Dead Sea Works’ canal near the Tze’elim Stream, where a damaging leak took place earlier this month, killing plants in an area populated by herbivores such as gazelles.

While the law doesn’t require a permit for the flow of water, both bodies say they would have expected ICL, the parent company of Dead Sea Works, to present a plan for preventing such a leak in the future, to obtain approval from authorities, and to start to implement that plan, before renewing the water’s flow.

The canal brings water from the Dead Sea into huge evaporation pools used for the commercial extraction of minerals. The water’s high salinity makes it deadly to most plants and animals.

Later this month, the ministry will hold a hearing for ICL over accusations that it violated clauses of the Water Law.

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