An Israeli lawmaker described Haifa Port, in the north of the country, as a “time bomb”, for an endless number of inflammable and explosive materials.
Member of Knesset, Miki Haimovich, Chair of the Parliament’s Committee on Interior and Environmental Protection, called on the government to “take an immediate decision to move the dangerous and polluting industries from here”.
Haimovic was at the head of a parliamentary delegation that visited Haifa port, on Sunday.
On Monday, the Parliamentary Office of the Knesset issued a summary of the tour.
The organization of the tour at the Haifa port came in the wake of the explosion in the Beirut port last week.
“We have a little rest in our minds regarding the handling of hazardous materials containers, and it is clear that the situation here is different from what happened in Beirut,” Haimovic said at the end of the tour.
She added, “Although we have received good answers, and we can be more reassuring, we still see the presence of large petrochemical industries at the heart of the population complexes”.
“The entire Haifa port is a time bomb for an infinite number of flammable and explosive materials, and we know that the rate of disease outbreaks among Haifa residents is higher than the general average,” she added.
The Israeli legislator added, “The state must take the immediate decision to transfer the dangerous and polluting industries from here”.
The Knesset media office indicated that the delegation “visited the fertilizer and chemical materials factory (Dashanim factory), which is the only factory from which ammonia gas is transported to food cold stores and ammonia is allowed to be discharged into tanks”.
“Currently, ammonia is stored in the plant through a 450-ton container in an underground shelter, instead of the large ammonia containers that were emptied and contained 12,000 tons,” he said.
“Ammonia has a bad reputation,” Ron Fischer, General Manager of Dashanim, was quoted as saying.
He added, “Ammonium nitrate (NH4NO3) is more dangerous, but it is stored in us by covering every atom of it and therefore it is not explosive or flammable, with a concentration less than 80%.
The article is not dangerous, and we are diluting this focus to 60%.
The Secretary-General of the Lebanese Hezbollah Organization, Hassan Nasrallah, had threatened in past years to throw a missile at the ammonia stores in the port of Haifa.
However, Riley Margalit, commander of the Haifa Brigade in the IDF Home Front Command, told the parliamentary delegation, “We have issued protective instructions to officials that the ammonia container in Dashanim, if it is hit by a missile, will not cause uncontrollable damage”.
He added, “We have received orders to reduce the stores, and when there is an escalation, we will stop absorbing materials and empty the warehouses”.
Eran Haimovic, General Manager of the “Tashan” Company for Petroleum and Energy Infrastructure, a strategic storage facility for the government oil reserve, told the parliamentary delegation that the company is looking for alternatives to transfer the company from the Haifa port.
“We believe that the facility should be located elsewhere, but as long as there is no other alternative, we are here, because without this facility the economy will not continue after two days,” he said.
Shuli Nazir, from the Israeli Ministry of Environmental Protection, pointed out that this facility must also be moved because “benzene (C6H6) is a first-class carcinogen and does not have a safe threshold”.
She added, “Therefore, it is preferable not to have emission sources near housing”.
Residents in Haifa had complained in recent years about the high incidence of cancer in the city, compared to other cities.