Israel’s Ministry of Environmental Protection reported that a fuel leak was detected Tuesday morning, from a tanker moored at the Trans-Israel Pipeline terminal in the Gulf of Eilat. The leaking fuel is now contained by blockers that were deployed around the tanker.
The inspectors of the national unit for the protection of the marine environment at the Ministry of Environmental Protection, led by the director of the station for the prevention of sea pollution in Eilat, Eli Warburg, are on hand, guiding the treatment and absorption of the spill.
This incident emphasizes once again that oil pollution incidents can and do occur all the time, and the importance of the Ministry of Environmental Protection’s policy of zero additional risk in the Gulf of Eilat.
The Trans-Israel pipeline extends from the Gulf of Eilat in the Red Sea to the Mediterranean. It was originally built to transport crude oil from Iran to Europe.
In September 2020, the Netanyahu government struck a preliminary deal to transport Emirati oil from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean using the pipeline. From the start, the deal provoked the opposition of the green organizations in Israel, who claimed that a single leak from one of the tankers was enough to cause irreversible damage to the environment, tourism, and the economy of Eilat. One of the main concerns was irreversible damage to the coral reef in the Bay of Eilat––a unique natural site of global importance.
In May 2021, a storage tank in the Ashkelon depot of the pipeline was damaged by a rocket fired from Gaza. In October, the deal was canceled.
The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) stated on Tuesday: “It is simply terrible and unbelievable, how the State of Israel endangers a miracle and a national treasure such as the Bay of Eilat, which is an important touristic and economic anchor for the residents of the city of Eilat. The SPNI, which supports a policy of zero added risk to the Gulf of Eilat, will continue to use all the means at its disposal for the sake of the unique natural resources in the Gulf and against activities that may endanger the health of the Israeli public and nature, such as the activity of the Trans-Israel Pipeline Company in the Gulf.”
In December 2014, a breach near the southern end of the pipeline led to a massive oil spill that devastated the Evrona Nature Reserve.