Lebanon explosion raises fears of similar danger in Haifa ‘right next to our bedrooms,’ research center says

“The incident in Lebanon illustrates the danger of a concentration of hazardous materials near a dense population,” said the Haifa Environmental Research Center.

By Josh Plank, World Israel News

Following a massive explosion in Beirut on Tuesday, Israeli experts warned against the dangers of hazardous materials stored at the port of Haifa, the Jerusalem Post reported Wednesday.

“The incident in Lebanon illustrates the danger of a concentration of hazardous materials near a dense population and pushes the urgent need to close flammable and explosive industries,” the Haifa Environmental Research Center said.

The center said that there are “1,500 aggregate risk areas and 800 types of dangerous chemicals in the Haifa Bay in factories right next to our bedrooms.”

The center warned that tankers carrying ammonia are located near residential areas, and a fertilizer plant that prepares fertilizer and explosives is located in the center of Haifa and houses a container with 15 tons of unprotected ammonia.

Channel 13’s Eli Levi said, “Anyone who sees the disaster in Beirut should understand that it can happen here too, in Haifa Bay.”

“We have huge fuel tanks, a bromine and ammonia reservoir, albeit not in a tank, but in dozens of trucks in the bay,” he said.

Environmental Protection Minister Gila Gamliel told 103FM, “We need to remove the dangerous chemicals from the Haifa Bay.”

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She said the plan is to remove the chemicals within five years and then take another five years to clean the area.

Miki Haimovich, chairwoman of the Knesset Environmental Protection Committee, said that Israel should be “very troubled” by the explosion in Beirut and voiced support for the plan to close the petrochemical industry in Haifa.

Last month, Brig. Gen. Gil Aginsky, commander of the Israeli Navy’s Haifa base, warned that the Lebanese political party and terror organization Hezbollah wants to attack Israeli gas rigs at sea.

In 2017, a large storage tank that held 12,000 tons of ammonia at the Haifa port was emptied after it was found to be a dangerous risk by the Environmental Protection Ministry.

Hassan Nasrallah, secretary general of Hezbollah, threatened to attack Haifa’s ammonia tank in 2016.

“This would be exactly as a nuclear bomb, and we can say that Lebanon today has a nuclear bomb, seeing as any rocket that might hit these tanks is capable of creating a nuclear bomb effect,” Nasrallah said.

The massive explosion in Beirut on Tuesday has been attributed to over 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate, which was stored at the port.

Besides its use as a fertilizer, ammonium nitrate has been used to make explosives by Hezbollah, both at home and by its operatives in London, Germany, and Cyprus.