Israeli-Emirati oil pipeline evades environmental scrutiny despite its potentially devastating impacts on local ecosystems
An Israeli pipeline for UAE oil has evaded scrutiny from environmental agencies and efforts from campaigners to stop its operation, environmentalists and government ministers have claimed.
The pipeline is run by an Israeli-state owned company, Europe-Asia Pipeline Company (EAPC) and has been used in the transfer of UAE oil to Europe, following a deal between EAPC and MED-RED Land Bridge, a company with both Israeli and Emirati owners, signed last October.
Israel's National Infrastructure Committee has exempted EAPC from completing an environmental impact survey on the pipeline's installation, which extends from Eilat to Ashkelon. The head of the committee stated that the company had already done many tests and surveys over the years on the impact of its work.
Environmental advocates, including some 20 environmental campaign groups, Eilat residents, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, and The Association of Cities for the Environment, have criticised the pipeline for its potentially devastating consequences on Eilat's fragile coral reefs and other surrounding ecosystems.
"The red lights are already switched on and blinking, and the government must act in advance in order to prevent the next catastrophe," said the former Environmental Protection Minister Gila Gamliel in a letter sent to the head of the National Security Council Meir Ben Shabbat on Tuesday.
Gamliel claimed the agreement to ratify the oil pipeline was signed without the Ministry of Environmental Protection’s approval and said plans had taken place behind closed doors.
Gamliel will be replaced with the new Israeli government, however, her successor is also opposed to the new pipeline.
EAPC was responsible for one of the largest environmental disasters in Israeli’s history six years ago when around 5 million litres of crude oil was accidentally released into the Arava desert and Evrona Nature Reserve.
The EAPC has stated that the new agreement is "part of the company’s normal course of business, and there is no change in its planned activities".
EAPC said: "This is a routine activity, as carried out for decades and the agreement is no different from the hundreds of agreements signed by the company. EAPC is equipped with the latest equipment, performs exercises and preparations frequently, is prepared for any activity and meets the most stringent international standards regarding the maintenance of its facilities."