The clean air division of environmental movement Green Course will be
distributing balloons filled with clean air at the Haifa Stairs Race this Friday
morning, the group announced on Wednesday.
Due to the severe amounts of
air pollution around Haifa, caused in large part by emissions from bay-area
factories, Green Course members decided that they must launch an emergency
operation in order to provide residents with fresh air, the group
The route of the race, which includes 1,075 stairs, covers 3.5
kilometers from the city’s Port Campus to Gan Ha’am in Carmel, and spans a
height of 280 meters, according to the city of Haifa. Not only will
race-finishers receive customary water bottles at the end of their paths, but
they will also receive balloons filled with clean air and detailed information
about the air that they inhaled through the duration of the race, Green Course
One of the main sponsors of the race – in addition to Radio Haifa,
Holmes Place, Egged, Dan Hotels, Yes and Maccabi – is Bazan Oil Refineries Ltd.
(ORL). Green Course called the participation of ORL “ironic” as it is a
significant air polluter of the region, according to the
Throughout the race, activists will present data for runners and
residents about the high morbidity rate in the Haifa Bay area, as well as the
presence of asthma and cancer as a result of certain pollutants emitted from the
factories, according to the group. Some members of Green Course will also take
part in the race, wearing balloons that will display the names of different
particulate pollutants that have thus far not been monitored in air quality
tests, despite their extremely dangerous properties, the organization
“Praiseworthy events, like the organized racing days in Haifa, must
be done hand in hand with activities that force the owners of burdensome
factories in the bay to significantly reduce the air pollution that they emit,”
said Aviv Zalts, the spokesman for Green Course Haifa.
“The Clean Air
Law, which was enacted about two years ago, is still not being implemented
almost at all. The city of Haifa as the governing body can impose fines on
polluting factory owners and hitting them in their pockets will bring results
and improve air quality,” he added.
In response, the criticized factory,
ORL, said that it sees great importance in maintaining relationships with the
population living near the factories, as part of its corporate responsibility
and long-term vision. The group has for a long time been working in partnership
with Radio Haifa and the municipality in order to promote environmental
awareness, and many of its employees will be participating in the
“The group has been part of the community for decades and acts on
behalf of Haifa and its residents,” a statement from ORL said.
to popular misconception among the public, the air quality in Haifa is good and
is similar and oftentimes better than the air quality in most major Israeli
The company stressed that it works in accordance with ministry
regulations and has very strict operating conditions and environmentally sound
technology. Since the company transferred from public to private hands, it has
been operating according to a five-year strategic environmental plan at a cost
of billions of shekels to the company, due to the importance of environmental
issues, the firm said.