The Environmental Protection Ministry will impose NIS 3,830,469 worth of
financial sanctions on the IDF due to the army’s negligence with respect to
asbestos removal, the ministry announced on Monday evening.
fact that the Environment Ministry had ordered the army to evacuate an asbestos
hazard from an area adjacent to Beersheba’s Natan Shalid base seven months ago,
the IDF has failed to do so, according to the ministry.
laden with asbestos have sat exposed to the open air and have caused health
hazards to soldiers, the ministry explained.
The decision to fine the IDF
constitutes the first time that any government agency has ever informed the army
of an intent to impose a monetary sanction, a ministry statement
“It is impossible that soldiers will endanger themselves precisely
inside their bases as a result of environmental and health oversights,” said
Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan.
“The use of fines against
the IDF is most unusual and unprecedented, but we are not willing to accept
disregarding of the law and risking of human lives.”
The asbestos hazards
at Natan Shalid are the result of a series of military glitches that began in
August 2011 with the accidental breakage of asbestos building structures, the
ministry statement explained. Contrary to the guidelines of the Prevention of
Asbestos Hazards Law, the IDF failed to update the Environment Ministry
immediately, and instead waited about a month and a half to do so, the ministry
noted. Regarding asbestos removal, the law requires submission of a work plan
for ministry approval, as well as implementation of the removal by means of a
certified contractor and inspector.
The IDF, however, only carried out a
partial debris removal and moved the remaining hazard about 100 meters away by
means of an additionally damaging towing process – which dispersed the asbestos
over a larger area and generated dust containing asbestos fibers, the ministry
A known human carcinogen, disintegrating asbestos fibers can
penetrate the respiratory system and cause diseases such as mesothelioma and
cancer, the ministry statement said. Stressing that the army’s actions pose an
ongoing risk to nearby soldiers, the Environment Ministry said that the IDF has
30 days to submit a written appeal to the office.
In response, the IDF
stressed that it has been following proper protocol regarding asbestos removal
for many years.
“The IDF has been treating asbestos at its bases for over
a decade,” it said in a statement. “The asbestos hazard at the Natan base is
known and was reported to the Environmental Protection Ministry by officials
acting on behalf of the IDF.
“The hazard is being treated continuously
and is right now [being deliberated] among IDF enforcement officials and
Environmental Protection Ministry enforcement officials, who are discussing ways
of treating it.”