Eilat oil spill puts coral reefs at risk

A Dec. 4 oil spill in Eilat was nearly twice as large as initially estimated.

New figures released by Israel’s Environmental Protection Ministry indicated that 1.3 million gallons of crude oil spilled from a damaged Eilat Ashkelon Pipeline Company pipeline, the Times of Israel reported.

The environmental ministry expressed concern that upcoming heavy rainfall and flooding would spread the oil pollutants to additional areas in southern Israel and possibly into the Gulf of Eilat, whose protected coral reefs are at risk of major damage. The spill already has damaged the Evrona nature reserve in the Arava Desert.

State Comptroller Yosef Shapira ordered an immediate investigation into the disaster, and the environmental ministry ordered the pipeline company to stop operating the line until it receives a new permit. — jta