El Al admits downed cargo plane carried nerve gas ingredient

The chemical is also used as a flame retardant and in the manufacture of plastic.

Forty-three people died in the crash. Neighborhood residents have since complained of health problems.

The newspaper reported that the chemical was en route from Solkatronic Chemicals Inc. in Morrisville, Pa. to the Institute for Biological Research in Ness Ziona, Israel.

In addition to the chemical, Kleiman said, the cargo jet also carried various electronic goods and perfume.

"The material in question is included in the list of materials approved for uplift or carriage in passenger or cargo airplanes by international organizations…including the U.N.," Kleiman added.

Kleiman said El Al cooperated fully with the Dutch government, which has known about the chemical for six years. It was on the cargo list handed over by Israel shortly after the crash.

Israel's Civil Aviation Authority will look into the issue, according to Transport Ministry spokesman Avner Ovadiah. The transport minister has not ordered a new investigation of the crash, but rather a check into the specific claim about the nerve gas component.

Kleiman denied the incident will tarnish El Al's image.

"We've been honest and forthright in providing information from the first day, and we've been cooperative with the Dutch authorities since the crash," he said. "So I don't believe this will affect the way people see us. It gets carried by planes from all over the world every day."