Dr. Revital Goldschmidt of the Environmental Research Center in Haifa said, “The event in Lebanon illustrates the danger of having concentrations of hazardous materials near a dense population center, and underscores the urgent need to close the flammable, volatile industries.”
Goldschmidt said, “People claim that what exploded [in Beirut] was ammonium nitrate. The ammonium storage facility [in Haifa] has been emptied, but Haifa Bay is still at risk from ammonia, with the tankers carrying it docked not far from the population, and a fertilizer factory that manufactures fertilizer and explosives in the middle of the city, which have 15-ton holding vats that are unprotected.
“We call on the government to submit a plan to close these dangerous factories to the cabinet, urgently,” she said.
Goldschmidt went on to say that ‘Israel’ was not prepared to handle a mass casualty event of the magnitude that would result from an explosion at the Haifa facilities.
“An event on the scale of what happened in Lebanon [with thousands of injured] could put Israel’s national strength at risk,” the scientist added.
Attorney Jameela Hardal Wakim, director of the Citizens for the Environment non-profit organization, said, “What happened in Beirut could happen in Haifa Bay, as well, or in Ashdod, or anywhere else where there are large stores of hazardous material.
“According to the latest [and incomplete] risk assessment, there are 1,500 risk points and 800 hazardous materials in Haifa Bay, and we also know that the necessary safety measures have not been taken,” Hardal Wakim added.
The attorney said that steps have not been taken to reduce the amount of hazardous materials located at Haifa Bay. She noted that there were also no preparations to handle an accident involving more than one site, or a chain event.
“Small-scale hazardous materials events in Haifa Bay are routine, and we must not wait until a major disaster happens before we act on recommendations to reduce the risks,” Hardel-Wakim said.
Kiryat Bialik Mayor Eli Dokorsky said, “The deathly blast in Beirut echoes, and demands that we oust the petrochemical industry form Haifa Bay. Hazardous materials and polluting factories have no place in the urban space, amid the population. Having been horrified at the sights from Lebanon, this is the time to take action, and sooner rather than later.”
Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah had threatened that the Resistance would bomb the chemical facilities in Haifa during any war with the Zionist enemy.