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Israel Environment and Nature: Eilat Oil Spill

On December 4, 2014, damage to the Trans-Israel oil pipeline spilled more than 600,000 gallons of crude oil near the village of Be'er Ora in Eilat, one of the worst environmental disasters in Israel's history. The pipeline was damaged during maintenance work, and the subsequent spill caused more than 80 individuals to be hospitalized with respiratory and other issues. According to the southern director of the Israeli Environmental Protection Ministry, contamination from the spill was “significant” and the local environment and wildlife will take years to recover.

The spill covered five square miles in Eilat, contaminating rivers and streams as well as a part of the Evrona nature preserve.  Traffic was blocked both coming in to and leaving Eilat after the oil flooded route 90, Israel's longest and busiest road.  The spill was contained before it could reach the nearby Jordanian border. 

The Israel Environmental Protection Ministry sued the Eilat Ashkelon Pipeline Company (EAPC) in May 2015 for $28.8 million, citing damage caused to the Evrona nature preserve by the spill. EAPC is an Israeli government owned corporation, and it is rare for two government entities to be entangled in a legal battle. If the case pans out, the majority of these funds would go to repairing extensive damage to the local ecosystem.

Sources:Rinat, Zafrir. “Israel Environmental Ministry to Demand $28.8 Million for Oil Spill Damages,” Haaretz (May 13, 2015)
Goldman, Paul/Smith, Alexander.“Israel Oil Spill: 600,000-Gallons Lost in Eilat Pipeline Breach,” NBC News (December 4 2014);
Lewis, Avi. “Southern Oil Spill One of Israel's Worst Eco-Disasters,” Times of Israel (December 4 2014);
Hartman, Ben. “Oil Spill Near Eilat is One of the Worst Environmental Accidents in Israel's History,” Jerusalem Post (December 4, 2014)