The Zalul Environmental Association slammed the Environmental Protection
Ministry’s Haifa District for granting Haifa Chemicals a poison permit for its
ammonia tank through 2017, rather than the customary one-year
“This is an outrageous decision, from which rises a strong smell
of an election period and smells of unrelated interests,” the organization wrote
in a letter on Sunday to Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan. “The
decision stands in utter contradiction to the commitments of your office to
bring the ammonia tank, which endangers the lives of Haifa residents, to a close
by the end of 2015.”
Issuing a poisons permit that deviates from the
allotted period by two full years indicates a relaxed attitude in the ministry
toward the dangers of the tank and the urgency of its closure, according to
Zalul. Meanwhile, this is occurring while the Haifa District Court is beginning
a criminal investigation on the factory for operation without a proper business
license, the organization said.
On March 1, the ministry had decided in
cooperation with the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry to order a transfer of
the ammonia tank to a facility in the South by the end of 2015, according to
Meanwhile, the ministries had dually promised to choose a
contractor to establish the plant by the end of 2012, the group explained in the
“Zalul demands that your office reconsider the validity of the
poisons permit and stand with its public commitment to close the container by
the end of 2015,” the organization said.
In response, the Environmental
Protection Ministry said that “it is too bad that Zalul’s pursuit of a headline
dizzies them and causes them to deny reality.”
“After years in which
previous governments ignored the location of the container, the Environmental
Protection and Industry, Trade and Labor ministries determined that the ammonia
container will be evacuated from the place within five years more or less, or
until the establishment of an ammonia production plant in the South – the
earliest of the two,” the ministry said.
Contrary to Zalul’s claims, the
poisons permit granted to Haifa Chemicals is only for one year, and it
stipulates that the company must stop container operations within five years,
according to the Environmental Protection Ministry.
Since the evacuation
decision was made on March 1, 2012, this means the cessation of work should
occur by the beginning of 2017, the ministry explained.
“If only people
at Zalul had bothered to check the facts or read the material, they would
realize this too,” the ministry said. “For the avoidance of doubt, the permit
that was given to the ammonia container and to Haifa Chemicals is valid for the
span of one year only, and we invite members of the organization to test this
next year, when the granting of an additional permit will be considered, as in
Stay on top of the news - get the Jerusalem Post headlines direct to your inbox!