Minister Gilad Erdan 370.
(photo credit: SHARON UDASIN)
Ruling against the appeal of a former asbestos production firm, the High Court
of Justice decided on Tuesday that the Etanit company will remain responsible
for half the cost of cleanup of the dangerous chemical in the Western
“This is a precedent-setting ruling and groundbreaking toward
everything that touches upon responsibility of the manufacturer,” said Amit
Bracha, executive director of Adam Teva V’Din (Israel Union for Environmental
“There is no doubt that the High Court’s decision serves the
Soon after the Asbestos Hazards Prevention Law passed
in its second and third Knesset readings in April 2011, the Environmental
Protection Ministry began implementing a plan for asbestos cleanup in the
Western Galilee. The ministry’s initial budget was NIS 20 million, but the
office estimated at the time that the project would demand a total of NIS 300m.
throughout its five-year duration.
The Etanit company, whose factory
produced asbestos building products on the northern Nahariya coast from 1953
through 1997, would be charged with bearing half the cost of the cleanup – up to
the sum of NIS 150m., according to the ministry.
The new law banned the
use of any type of asbestos while also phasing out the existing presence of
asbestos inside industrial and public buildings within 10 years time, and inside
IDF facilities within seven years, ministry information said.
Western Galilee cleanup project, the program would involve evacuating asbestos
from public spaces, and later from private ones.
The asbestos industrial
waste that originated from the Etanit factory was scattered over approximately
150,000 cubic meters of land, with some also intermixed in the region’s roads
and paths, ministry data reported. Now crumbling with old age, these paths were
exposing asbestos to the surface and the air.
About a year after the law
passed and the evacuation project began, thenenvironmental protection minister
Gilad Erdan visited the cleanup site and deemed the asbestos removal so
important that he decided to double the ministry’s contribution to NIS
“Every day that we advance the project, a human life is saved,”
Erdan said in a statement in April 2012. “We doubled the budget designated for
this year in order to double the pace of executing the hazard’s
At the time, Erdan had also requested that Etanit co-owner
Mickey Federman – who also owns the Dan hotel chain – remove his petition to the
High Court and abide by the asbestos law, but the petition remained in
In the latest ruling against Etanit, the judges also decided that
the company must reimburse Adam Teva V’Din NIS 70,000 for its legal expenses in
fighting against the appeal, the environmental advocacy group said. The more
than 50- page ruling deems the manufacturer responsible for dealing with the
cleanup and justifies the right to impose the financial burden on the firm,
according to Adam Teva V’Din. Referring to the unjust danger placed upon
vulnerable citizens through asbestos exposure, the ruling calls the scattered
chemical a “ticking health bomb.”
Keren Halperin, director of Adam Teva
V’Din’s legal department, welcomed the decision of the court.
extended action that began in creating awareness of the asbestos problem in the
Western Galilee and continued with the local struggles and with the promotion of
comprehensive legislation to remove asbestos, [this decision will] allow
residents and visitors of the Western Galilee to enjoy a healthy and fitting
environment that does not endanger their health on a daily basis,” Halperin