State-owned pipeline to pay NIS 250,000 for damaging corals, won’t admit liability

Europe Asia Pipeline Company will pay NIS 250,000 (just under $74,000) for damage to corals, fish, invertebrates and other sea creatures, according to a settlement agreement that received the status of a legal judgment on Monday.

The settlement agreement approved by the Beersheba Magistrate’s Court does not include any admission of liability on the part of the EAPC.

Instead, he describes the payment part of the company’s desire to “help the environmental goals of the Nature and Heritage Protection Fund,” which works with the Israel Nature and Parks Authority. .

The parks authority had filed a civil suit but agreed to withdraw it as part of the settlement.

The sum includes all court costs.

EAPC was found guilty more than two years ago of endangering the protected nature of the Red Sea after damaging more than 2,600 corals off the coastal city of Eilat.

The public company EAPC works from the north pier of the oil port of Eilat. In January 2014, she contracted South Marina Divers to carry out work, including the dismantling of construction piles – long cylinders that support the structures built on them. During the works – for which permission should have been sought from the parks authority but was not – several piles overturned into the sea.

According to the indictment filed in the Eilat Magistrate’s Court in February 2020, the works, including the removal of the piles, caused “serious damage” to the life forms growing there as well as to the reefs. which grew at their feet.

At the time, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority provided reports and photographs to prove the damage, citing 665 corals that were around 50 years old and would take many years to rehabilitate. He also documented damage to many creatures that rely on corals for life, including fish and invertebrates.

Corals growing on construction piles in the port of Eilat. (Israel Nature and Parks Eilat District Ecologist, Dr Assaf Zvuloni)

In January, the High Court dismissed an appeal against the conviction and upheld a total fine of NIS 180,000 ($53,000) to be paid by the director of EAPC in Eilat, Ze’ev Zel, as well as South Marina Divers Ltd. and its director Eyal Bar Zion.

A statement from the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel said the recently approved compromise agreement was “another reminder of the great destruction and damage the EAPC is causing to nature in Israel.”

The statement argued that the company should not be allowed to carry out the deal struck with a consortium of Israeli and UAE businessmen to use Israel as a land bridge for crude oil from the Gulf bound for markets. Europeans.

In November, the Department of Environmental Protection informed the pipeline company that it would not grant a permit to allow the deal to go ahead, citing concerns about possible leaks.

Yellow water seen in the Zin stream in the Negev desert in southern Israel. (King Galili)

In April, the Beersheba Magistrate’s Court fined the EAPC NIS 1.6 million (about $486,000) for polluting the Zin Stream in southern Israel twice in 2011.

The court also fined a number of former senior officials of the company, formerly known as Eilat-Ashkelon Pipeline, including former EAPC chief executive Yair Vida, who was ordered to pay NIS 75,000 (over $22,000).

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