Government hopes to launch nationwide clean air program

February 29, 2016 19:47

The program, according to Gabbay, will focus on lowering air pollution caused by factors such as factories and transportation.

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A "Wind Energizer" built by Leviathan Energy Renewables

A "Wind Energizer" built by Leviathan Energy Renewables. (photo credit: Courtesy)

Cities across Israel might enjoy cleaner air if a plan to reduce air pollution nationwide promised by the Environmental Protection Ministry goes into effect.

Environmental Protection Minister Avi Gabbay kept details sparse as he told the crowd of plans to “soon” launch a nationwide program that would include elements to fight air pollution, while speaking at the 11th annual Environment 2050 Conference in Tel Aviv on Monday, sponsored by Tadmor and Co., Yuval Levy and Co., The Environmental Services Company Ltd., and Veolia Israel.

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The program, according to Gabbay, will focus on lowering air pollution caused by factors such as factories and transportation.

Furthermore, the plan will supposedly spell out exact environmental goals, as well as the resources needed to reach them.

Though he said there are differing numbers on how many people have died directly as a result of air pollution, he noted that the most conservative figure is 1,500.

“This is three times the amount of casualties from car crashes and homicide,” he said, adding that the number of deaths doesn’t factor in the damage to the quality of life experienced by “hundreds of thousands of people.”

In his speech, he said that coal “is the biggest factor contributing to air pollution in Israel – in Hadera and Ashkelon” and praised the ministry for helping reducing the use of coal power. He said switching to natural gas power is “one of the key factors for changing air pollution.”

Turning to the hot topic of Haifa, he said “the scope of petrochemical industry is enormous” since so many factories are concentrated in a residential area.

According to Gabbay, though, even if all factories were to conform to environmental directives, they would still be problematic. The solution lies in progressively reducing the amount of factories based in Haifa Bay, though did not speak about where factories could be relocated.

Later in the day, the Knesset’s Interior and Environment Committee approved the ministry’s request to update existing standards for measuring air pollution.

The amounts for six chemicals known to be carcinogenic or harmful to humans were updated to conform with American and European pollution measurements standards.

Among the chemicals on the list was Benzene, which is emitted from oil refineries, fuel storage sites, gas stations and vehicles, according to the statement.

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