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Israel's Haifa Chemicals says it is closing business

JERUSALEM, Aug 2 (Reuters) - Haifa Chemicals said on Wednesday it was closing shop and letting go of its 800 employees after failing to find a reasonable alternative to a large ammonia tank it needs to function which was ordered to be shut down earlier this year.

An Israeli court in February ordered the company 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.

"Haifa Chemicals management decided to close the company and is forced to fire all its employees," it said in a statement.

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 such as 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.

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 Louise Heavens)