The brunt of lower and western Galilee factories does not comply with the
standards of the Clean Air Law, a local green group found.
Only two of
three surveyed wastewater-treatment facilities in the region comply with the
country’s sewage regulations, Citizens for the Environment in the Galilee (CFE)
The group published its third annual report this week in a series
called “Industrial Silence,” in which it examined 30 factories in the North for
2009-2010 and determined whether these industries are meeting environmental
standards as stipulated by law and by international standards – as well as
whether authorities are monitoring their environmental practices
While both the Environmental Protection Ministry and local
authorities have increased the amount of industrial pollution data available to
the public in recent years, the information is still largely incomplete and
indicates that the facts are not up to par, according to the
While the ministry publishes information on most factories’ air
sampling results, it does not include their sewage analyses, the authors
charged, noting that even after filing information appeals, they were only able
to obtain fewer than 40 percent of the sewage analyses requested.
12 local authorities in which the factories are located, only the Kiryat Shmona
municipality compiles data and samples about the plants within its jurisdiction,
and eight of the cities do not even have an environmental
Some authorities, however, such as the Jezreel Valley
Regional Council and the Upper Galilee Regional Council, are making positive
strides toward improving their environmental monitoring systems, the report
Of the 27 factories in which air quality had been monitored
– the remaining three were sewage facilities, and air quality was deemed
irrelevant – 21 are not currently up to the standards of the Clean Air Law.
Meanwhile, only six of the 30 total factories performed all the tests required
of them in the conditions of their business licenses.
Two of the three
sewage facilities examined complied with the Public Health Regulations: Effluent
Quality Standards and Sewage Treatment Regulations. The report, however, noted
that in most of the periodic tests conducted at the facilities, testers only
checked for a small portion of the hazardous materials that could be present in
“In the current situation, where the Ministry of
Environmental Protection is only capable of monitoring a very small portion of
the factories in Israel, there is no choice but allowing other entities to take
part in this effort,” the report concluded, noting that the Organization for
Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) recently made similar
recommendations to Israel.
“The local authorities must immediately begin
to monitor factories in their jurisdiction, including the compilation of
information, controlling and sanctioning, where necessary,” it
Local authorities must also require factories to publish the
results of their periodic tests, and factories should both improve their
wastewater treatment systems and reuse their water, the report added. Meanwhile,
the Environmental Protection Ministry must increase its supervision over
hazardous sites and improve the data collection process as well as its
enforcement program, ensuring that Israel’s standards are those of international
caliber, according to the report.
“Stop ‘negotiating’ with the local
polluters,” the authors wrote.
The Knesset, in turn, must establish
legislation that would mandate the publication of business licenses for
industrial sewage operations, the report added.
As for the public and the
people who work at the factories, it is crucial that employees get regular blood
tests to monitor toxin levels in their blood, and for citizens to demand
information about the industrial areas around them, according to the green
“They must act for civil enforcement against polluting factories
in their residential areas,” the report said.
In response, the ministry
said the report presents “a misleading picture” as to how the ministry deals
with factories in the North.
To streamline the monitoring process, the
ministry has initiated a reform that would map out which factories generate the
most risk and allow for targeted inspections and enforcement activities, but due
to the finance ministry’s opposition, has not received the necessary government
approval for the program. In the meantime, the ministry continues to impose
financial sanctions on lawbreakers, the ministry added.
works tirelessly and sets uncompromising demands of all those whose activities
harm the environment,” a statement from the office said. “The ministry makes use
of every means in its hands and the limited amount of manpower available to it
to monitor the hundreds of thousands of factories and businesses operating in
the State of Israel.”