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Ammonia Ships, Tanks Put Lives of Mediterranean Basin Residents at Risk | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Firefighters use water to dilute ammonia leaking from a chemical plant. (photo credit:REUTERS)

Tal Aviv- Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav, along with chemists, have expressed fears of the dangers of Ammonia tanks and delivery ships on the lives of the residents of the Mediterranean.

According to the chemists, these risks might outdo the damage caused by the Hiroshima atomic bombing in the past century.

This danger is threatening around three million of the Mediterranean Basin residents, including one million Israelis, they stated during an urgent news conference. They called on the government to find a prompt solution and relocate the Ammonia tanks.

“A ship brings ammonia to Israel about once a month. It docks at Haifa’s Kishon Port to unload the cargo to the storage facility. The ship carries 16,700 tons of liquid ammonia, 10,000 tons of which are off-loaded in Haifa,” according to a report prepared by chemistry professor Ehud Keinan.

“The ammonia on the ship is carried in five storage tanks. Damage to a single tank could cause a disaster whose effects could exceed that of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War II. If all five storage tanks were to be compromised, the resultant deadly cloud of ammonia could cover the Haifa area for at least eight hours: Every person in the danger zone would choke to death within one hour,” added the report.

According to a report submitted to the Environmental Protection Ministry in December 2011, of the 120,000 tons of ammonia that are brought to Israel every year, some 80 percent is used in the making of fertilizer – the vast majority of which is exported.

The ministry report notes that the U.S.-owned Haifa Chemicals uses 70 percent of Israel’s ammonia imports, with Israel Chemicals using the remaining 30 percent.

“Most what worries Israel is that the so-called Hezbollah has high capability to develop and possess precise missiles and this is the most tangible threat,” according to the Israeli point of view.

The Israel army estimates that in the next war Hezbollah will be able to fire up to 1,500 rockets a day, compared to about 200 during the 2006 war.