Donate
facebook english

Evrona oil spill

Worst environmental disaster in Israel’s history
Adam Teva V’Din demands accountability and criminal investigation

 

Photo credit: AFP

 

BACKGROUND

 

The oil spill in the southern Arava, 12 miles north of Eilat, is the most serious ecological disaster in Israel’s 66-year history.


The Trans-Israel pipeline (from the port of Eilat to the heart of Ashkelon) was damaged during construction work and spewed over 31,000 barrels of crude oil into the southern desert. The initial spill severely damaged the Evrona nature reserve, famed for its rare gazelle population, Acacia and Douma palm trees. The spill also endangers the health of residents of the neighboring settlements of Be’er Ora and Kibbutz Ketura.

 

Evrona nature reserve, 12 miles north of Eilat


Each day, the scale of the ecological disaster exceeds initials assessments and experts estimate that it will take up to 50 years to rehabilitate the fragile region.

 

To date:

  • 31,000 barrels of crude oil were spilled in the accident.
  • Oil slicks spread over 5 miles, leading to the temporary closure of the main road to Eilat.
  • 430 acacia trees have been destroyed.

Observers have already spotted gazelles, covered in oil, limping through the reserve.

  

Photo credit: Israel Nature and Park Authority

A RACE AGAINST TIME


Damage control teams are frantically working to remove as much of the oil as possible. So far 20,000 tons of contaminated soil have been removed for treatment. Barriers have been erected to prevent the oil from spreading to additional territories. However, forecasted heavy rains raise the risk of flash floods which could spread the pollution into the Gulf of Aqaba and Eilat, endangering coral reefs there.

 

ADAM TEVA V’DIN SENDS EMERGENCY TEAM TO CONTAMINATED AREA


Adam Teva V'Din immediately assigned key professionals to respond to the crisis. We were the first NGO to receive permission to visit the site of the spill.

 

President Reuven Rivlin specifically asked Adam Teva V'Din to engage our team of expert environmental attorneys and scientists to focus on this emergency situation and requested a personal status report from our Executive Director, Amit Bracha.

 

EILAT ASHKELON PIPELINE COMPANY (EAPC): A TICKING TIMEBOMB

 

This is not the first time that the oil company, Eilat Ashkelon Pipeline Company, has suffered from contaminating leaks, causing severe environmental damage.

 

 

In the past eight years, there have been at least six leaks from their pipelines. Due to an anachronistic law, EAPC operates under a special license which grants it immunity from environmental regulations, planning and building laws and shields it from government and public scrutiny. To date, no-one has been brought to trial for negligence and EAPC continues to operate under a shroud of secrecy.

 

We call on the government to take the following actions:

  • Launch a Commission of Inquiry into the accident.
  • Charge the EAPC with criminal negligence if the Commission's findings prove negligence.
  • Ensure that all future oil operations and permits be conditioned by environmental surveys and financial securities.

EVRONA OIL SPILL: A SYMBOL OF ADAM TEVA V’DIN’S ACTIVITY

 

The Evrona oil spill symbolizes everything Adam Teva V’Din stands for and involves all of the principles we fight to uphold on a daily basis:

  • Accountability
  • Transparency
  • Oversight
  • National energy policy which reduces Israel’s dependency on polluting fossil fuels and promotes renewable energy sources.
  • Change the outdated Petroleum Law (1952) so that the Environmental Protection Ministry will finally have the authority to enforce environmental considerations and regulations at all stages of planning, production and delivery. 

Members of Adam Teva V'Din emergency response team at site of spill

 

ADAM TEVA V’DIN’S EMERGNECY RESPONSE & OUTCOMES:

 

Dec 4: Ruptured pipeline spills 31,000 barrels of crude oil in the Evrona nature reserve.
Dec 7: We call on the Prime Minister to appoint a Minister of Environment to manage the crisis (post vacant for past month since the resignation of Minister). On December 9, the Prime Minister appoints Ofir Akunis as Deputy Minister of Environment. 
Dec 7: We call on the government to prohibit all operations of the pipeline until further notice. The Ministry of Environment subsequently bans all operations of the faulty pipeline until further notice.
Dec 7: We call on State Comptroller to investigate the incident. On December 8, the State Comptroller opens an investigation.
Dec 9: We call on the President to take action in managing the crisis. On December 10, President Rivlin personally phones Amit Bracha to discuss the disaster and expresses his faith in our ability to contribute to managing the crisis. He also instructs the Deputy Minister of Environment to invite Adam Teva V’Din to visit the site.
Dec 9: We call on the Prime Minister and Civil Service Commissioner to cancel the appointment of the PM’s new bureau chief due to a conflict of interest. The bureau chief serves as EAPC’s secretary general.
Dec 10: We call on the Minister of Finance to remove EAPC’s immunity and expose the conduct of the company.
Dec 10: We call on the Attorney General to launch a criminal investigation against EAPC and Board of Directors.
Dec 10: Our professional team meets with government and pipeline officials at site of the spill.
Dec 11: Over 1,000 concerned Israelis sign our petition demanding to stop all oil infrastructure operations and permit approvals until conclusions are drawn from the disaster.
Dec 28:

We file a petition to the High Court of Justice demanding the government to:

  • Remove an anachronistic decree which grants EAPC immunity and blanket censorship
  • Publicly disclose all information about the Evrona oil spill
  • Publicly disclose EAPC's financial records in order to estimate the extent of the damage and how much the company must pay for rehabilitation costs.
June 16:  We publish an economic assessment of the environmental and socio-economic damages of the oil spill, based on the U.S. EPA's model, totalling 526 million NIS ($138 million). Read more.

 

Adam Teva V'Din is continuing to advocate for overhauling the anachronistic Petroleum Law (1952) and advancing renewable energy policies is ongoing.

Jump to page content