A massive, eight-ton leak of ammonia killed one firefighter and injured 16 more people at the Hod Chefer factory in Emek Chefer, south of Hadera on Thursday evening. Nine of the injured were also firefighters who had been called to the scene.
During routine work at the Hod Hefer factory, an employee accidentally hit a pipe leading to a 60 ton ammonia storage tank. Firefighting crews estimated that some eight tons of ammonia had leaked. A large crack about 2 centimeters wide formed in the tank.
In the ensuing public health emergency, more than 15 response teams were rushed to the scene from across the country and police cruisers blocked sections of the northbound Route 4 and southbound Route 9.
Due to the imminent health hazard, anyone within one mile of the leak site was ordered to evacuate. Residents of areas slightly further than that were asked to close all doors and windows, turn off air conditioners and remain inside.
Fire commissioner Shachar Ayalon said that “This is a difficult event; we have fire fighters who are in the hospital. Our primary effort is to shut the leak. Our recommendation is to stay inside, and we will inform the public when they can return to routine.”
The factory is located in an industrial zone with only one entrance, and therefore it was decided not to endanger those already in the area by asking them to evacuate, and instead, they were ordered to stay where they were.
A wedding was scheduled to be held at a hall in the complex, and guests were unable to reach the hall, even though the chassan, kallah and their families were already there. Many of the guests turned back after seeing that trying to get to the hall was futile.