Israel Chemicals (ICL), one of the major mineral mining companies at the Dead Sea, and whose activities appears to be partially responsible for continuing rising waters in the salt lake’s southern portion are willing to pay for most of the costs of dredging built up deposits of salt from the lakes southern portion. This development reported in The Marker, will prevent rising waters from flooding many of the hotels located in this area.
The operation, which could take as long as 18-20 years to complete, was estimated originally by ICL to cost around NIS 3.8 billion or more than one billion US Dollars as per present currency rates. According to this estimate, the dredging operations will take until 2030 to complete; and of this sum, ICL is willing to pay up to NIS 3 billion to complete.
Attention to the rising waters in the lake’s southern portion, which is not really the Dead Sea but a section of evaporation pools for extracting phosphates and other minerals, began to get media attention in 2010. At that time, it was reported that the building up salt accumulation, which was causing water levels to rise, was building up at the rate of some 20 cm per year.
In addition to the lucrative mineral mining industries, area tourism is a big money maker for the State of Israel and Jordan. It’s a provider of tourism related jobs for many people living in nearby cities like Arad and Beersheva.
Moving the hotels and health spas to higher ground, or dismantling them and rebuilding elsewhere is estimated to cost more than the cost of the dredging operations, including disruption of tourism to the area, while the hotel rebuilding or relocation is being carried out.
The plight of the Dead Sea, especially its tourism industries, was brought recently to international media attention when American nude art photographer Spencer Tunick staged an event of 1000 naked people, most of them Israelis, floating on the waters of the Dead Sea.
Israel Chemical’s offer to pay toward the dredging work is at least enough to start these operations, which should commence immediately if there is to be any reasonable chance to save the Dead Sea’s tourism infrastructure.
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