Arava oil spill
Arava oil spillNature and Parks Authority

The government on Sunday authorized an expenditure of NIS 17 million ($4 million) for the reclamation of lands in the Arava that were damaged in the recent major oil spill. The government intends to collect most of that money from the Eilat Ashkelon Pipeline Company, the firm that was responsible for the pipeline that exploded last month, spilling millions of liters of oil and badly damaging the Evrona Nature Reserve.

The money will be used to conduct surveys in the area of the spill, and to investigate the impact of the spill on the nature reserve and on the Gulf of Eilat. The plan calls for the use of advanced technology to seek out deposits of oil that remain, and to clean them up. In addition, funds will be set aside to develop a new nature reserve in an unaffected area of the Arava, in order to enable a restoration of the plant and animal life that was damaged in the spill.

The plan was authored by the Environment Ministry, which is now being run by Likud minister Ofir Akunis. “The government adopted my stance on how to deal with the spill and how to pay for it,” he said. “EAPC will be paying for a large portion of the clean-up and restoration costs. We intend to act in the very near future to begin the rehabilitation process.”

The massive pipeline oil spill in the Arava desert, near Be'er Ora 20 kilometers (12 miles) north of Eilat in the southern Negev, involved the spill of over 1,000 cubic meters - the equivalent of 40 tanker trucks - of oil. It was described as an "environmental disaster" by environmental activists.