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Israeli oil company to pay almost $30m in compensation for 2014 pipeline leak

11 November 2019

The state-owned Eilat-Ashkelon Pipeline Company (EAPC) will pay 100 million shekels ($28 million) in damages for a five million litre oil spill in December 2014. 

Image: Wikimedia / Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel
Image: Wikimedia / Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel

The settlement, agreed on November 7, was agreed with a group of plaintiffs, including the Nature and Parks Authority and Environmental Protection Ministry, and will go towards restoring the Evrona Nature Reserve which was damaged by the spill.

The leak from the Eilat-Ashkelon pipeline, also known as the Trans-Israel pipeline, happened near the town of Be’er Ora, 19 kilometres (12 miles) north of Eilat in the far south of Israel, damaging parts of the Evrona Nature Reserve in the Negev Desert. Crude oil seeped into the ground of the nature reserve, damaging the environment, animals and plant life. Around a fifth of the settlement fee will go towards the safeguarding of the reserve and preventing future damage. 

The oil leak is thought to be one of Israel’s worst ever ecological disasters. A preliminary investigation indicated that the spill was caused after the pipeline was struck accidentally during maintenance work. Other than the environmental damage, the spill sent over 80 people to hospital with respiratory problems on both sides of the Israel-Jordan border.

Several lawsuits were filed on behalf of Israeli citizens, local residents and landowners, with proceedings lasting five years. 

The Environmental Protection Ministry is still able to pursue criminal procedures relating to the incident and has requested that sanctions be placed on the company during these procedures.

The Eilat-Ashkelon pipeline, which opened in the 1960s, links Eilat to the port city of Ashkelon. The pipeline’s original purpose was to transport Iranian oil from the Persian Gulf to European markets, but since the breakdown of Iranian-Israeli relations in the 1970s, it has been used to move oil from Eilat to other areas of Israel.

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