JERUSALEM, July 7 (UPI) -- The Israeli Environmental Protection Ministry says a pipeline leaked as much as 250,000 gallons of jet fuel into the Nahal Zin nature preserve.
The government issued a work cessation order against Eilat-Ashkelon Pipeline Co., Ynetnews.com reported Thursday.
The report didn't say what caused the leak.
Officials said the jet fuel was up to 15 feet deep in some areas of the preserve and tens of thousands of cubic yards of contaminated soil would have to be removed.
The EPM said the spill caused the worst damage ever witnessed at an Israeli nature reserve.
"The work that the Eilat-Ashkelon Pipeline Company is carrying out along the pipeline is restoration and maintenance work of the old pipeline and of course it is our wish that this work continue," said Guy Samet, the environmental ministry's southern region manager.
"That said, a ministry inspection found that they didn't do everything that needed to be done according to their emergency plan which was the cause of the magnitude of the damages," Samet said.
The Eilat-Ashkelon Pipeline Co. said its restoration work wasn't responsible for the leak.
"It should be mentioned that the company did not harm the pipeline which caused the damage. Nonetheless, as soon as the incident occurred the company worked to repair the situation," the company said in a statement. "Now as always, the Eilat-Ashkelon Pipeline Company works according to Environmental Protection Ministry guidelines."