Photo Credit: Ilan Malester, Ministry of Environmental Protection
The ammonia tank in Haifa.

Haifa Chemicals announced Tuesday it would issue layoff letters to all of its factory workers in northern Israel. This followed a government decision to close the company’s massive ammonia tank in Haifa Bay, and a decision by Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav not to accept a compromise plan that would have allowed the ammonia to be imported in smaller amounts.

Company management met Tuesday with representatives of the workers’ committee, and informed them the letters would be sent to some 400 workers next week, according to Channel 10.

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The firm has operated for more than 50 years, and uses nearly 70 percent of ammonia imports in its production of fertilizer at plants in northern and southern Israel.

The decision was made following a dispute with Mayor Yahav. The government had approved a plan to allow small ships carrying the imported ammonia to dock in Ashdod or Haifa, and then bring the chemical overland to the plant – but the mayor was strongly opposed. The company had already agreed to the plan earlier this month.

For years there have been environmental and national security concerns that a missile could hit the tank, or some other disaster could strike, causing a deadly chemical leak that could cost the lives of hundreds of thousands in the area.

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