Toxic Spill Spreads 12-Mile Trail Of Destruction In Israeli Desert by the Forward

Toxic Spill Spreads 12-Mile Trail Of Destruction In Israeli Desert

Image by Getty Images

Toxic wastewater that surged through a dry riverbed in southern Israel at the weekend left a wake of ecological destruction more than 12 miles long.

The flood began last Friday when the 60 meter (yard) high wall of a reservoir at a phosphate factory partially collapsed, letting loose 100,000 cubic meters (26.4 million gallons) of highly acidic wastewater in the Ashalim riverbed.

That was enough fluid to fill 40 Olympic-sized pools.

The toxic torrent snaked through the desert, singeing anything in its path, before collecting again hours later in a pool several kilometers from the Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth.

Days later, the ground is still stained a dark brown and giving off a nauseating acidic stench, more potent than a highly chlorinated swimming pool.

One section of the Ashalim riverbed is made up of narrow canyons, popular for hiking, but no one was around when the wastewater first gushed through.

Israel’s Ministry of Environment has opened a criminal investigation into the plant’s owner.

“All the plants and animals in the valley during the tsunami of acid were probably highly damaged, probably dead,” said Oded Netzer, an ecologist for the ministry. “In the long term, there will be soil damage and large functional ecological problems.”

Author

Toxic Spill Spreads 12-Mile Trail Of Destruction In Israeli Desert

Your Comments

The Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. All readers can browse the comments, and all Forward subscribers can add to the conversation. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Forward requires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not and will be deleted. Egregious commenters or repeat offenders will be banned from commenting. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and the Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Recommend this article

Toxic Spill Spreads 12-Mile Trail Of Destruction In Israeli Desert

Thank you!

This article has been sent!

Close