​‘Millions of liters’ of oil spilled in Israel, flooding nature reserve (PHOTOS)

Crude oil streams through the desert in south Israel, near the village of Beer Ora, north of Eilat December 4, 2014

A pipeline breach near the Israel-Jordan border has flooded a nature
reserve in what authorities call one of Israel’s worst environmental
disasters, causing large amounts of potentially poisonous gas to be
released near Aqaba, raising health concerns.

The Eilat-Ashkelon crude
oil pipeline near the Evrona reserve in the south of Israel
accidentally ruptured Wednesday night spewing a river of oil
across the desert. Israeli environment officials predict that the
clean-up effort could take years.

Israeli nature reserve hit with oil spillhttp://t.co/RJMl3Z9MD2

“The full scope of the incident is still not clear to us, but
it is certainly a matter of millions of liters of crude oil,
which is dangerous both to animals and to the nature reserve
itself," Environment Ministry representative Guy Samet was
quoted as saying in Globes, as Israeli financial news daily.

Samet has said that an estimated 4.3 mile-oil stream is flowing
through the reserve, which is home to a large gazelle population
and the world’s northernmost doum palms, a rare type of branching
palm tree.

Oil spill on Israel-Jordan border "1 of worst" environmental disasters in region's history t.co/gSG6PbKL2L but barely makes the news.

"This is one of the State of Israel's gravest pollution
events," Samet told Israel Radio on Thursday.

A spokesman for the Eilat Asheklon Pipeline Company (EAPC), Ronen
Moshe, said that the spill occurred in a new section of the
pipeline. The breach occurred during prep work for the
construction of an international airport in Timna, in southern
Israel, according to Haaretz. The reasons for the spill are being

“There are dozens of people in the field taking care of the
aftermath,” Moshe said Wednesday night, adding that the
spill had not affected supply.

EAPC workers were joined by Israeli firefighters and rescue
forces who worked to contain the spill, stopping the oil short of
the Jordanian border. Route 90, the main road to Eilat, was
temporarily closed pending emergency work. The team was
reportedly able to curtail the oil flow after several hours.

Though the Jordanian side of the border remained unscathed,
Jordanian officials have said that over eighty Aqaba residents
have sought medical treatment for respiratory problems following
the release of large amounts of hydrogen sulfide into the air,
according to Haaretz. However, officials said that the residents’
health problems were not serious.

The 153-mile pipeline which links Asheklon, a southern port city,
to the Mediterranean coast, was opened in the 1960s to facilitate
transport of Iranian oil to Europe, but has primarily been used
to move oil within Israel since the deterioration of
Israeli-Iranian relations after the 1979 Iranian Revolution.