JERUSALEM (Reuters) - An Israeli court on Sunday ordered Haifa Chemicals to shut down the country's largest ammonia tank, which has been a point of contention for years, with residents and environmental groups warning it is a major health hazard.


The colossal, circular vat is located in the northern port of Haifa, Israel's third largest city, and can hold 12,000 tons of ammonia, which is used in products like fertilizer and explosives.


The government, looking to remove hazardous materials from the heavily populated area, has for more than a decade been looking for alternatives to the Haifa plant, including building a new one in the middle of the desert. It has made little progress.


The Haifa court stepped in on Sunday, ruling that the tank be shut down and emptied within 10 days, according to a statement by the Haifa municipality which brought the case against the plant two weeks ago.


A spokesman for Haifa Chemicals said the "company will honor the court's decision", declining to comment on how it would impact business, the broader Israeli market or whether the company would appeal.


Haifa Chemicals is owned by a U.S. holding company Trance Resource Inc (TRI), which is controlled by Florida-based Trump Group. This has no connection to U.S. President Donald Trump.

(Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch; Editing by Stephen Powell)