Jet fuel spill floods Israeli nature preserve

08:42, June 30, 2011      

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A backhoe operator digging at a desert nature preserve in southern Israel on Wednesday struck and cracked a major pipeline carrying jet fuel from the Red Sea port of Eilat to the Mediterranean coastal city of Ashkelon.

Israel's Nature and Parks Authority (INPA) Spokesman Omri Gal told Xinhua that "we're not talking about liquid flowing, like out of a spilled bottle -- we're talking about a 20-meter-high gusher. "

The accident, which took place on the course of maintenance work in the Nahal Zin park, occurred in the early hours of the morning, Gal said, adding that by local time 10:00 am (GMT 0700) the flow had been cut off. He added that a team of experts were on to the scene to assess both the ecological damage, and the structural damage to the pipe and supports, which the backhoe damaged.

Gal suggested that possibly several hundred cubic liters of jet fuel had been spilled, and that INPA officials were concerned about possible seepage into groundwater sources and damage to flora and fauna in the vicinity.

"The leak was caused after heavy machinery performing infrastructure work hit the gas pipe," INPA Southern Director Raviv Shapira said.

"The work was done on the Eilat-Ashkelon Pipeline Company's responsibility and the damage caused a large amount of fuel to leak. It has already reached the wadi," Shapira said, according to the Ynet news site.

"This is a very serious incident," said INPA Director Eli Amitai, adding "We are preparing to provide the best care to minimize the damage."

Gal said that "dozens of INPA staff are working to surround and contain the already-polluted water and to start pumping it into barrels, so that it doesn't continue downstream in the wadi."

Source: Xinhua
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