The Beersheba Magistrate’s Court fined the Ramat Hovav- based Bromine Compounds company about NIS 1 million for failing to report data from particle and gas emissions tests, the Environmental Protection Ministry announced on Sunday.
A 2008 indictment that the Environment Ministry filed against the company alleged that Bromine Compounds was emitting concentrations of methylene chloride up to 1,436 percent of the authorized standard.
Methylene chloride – also known as dichloromethane – is suspected to be carcinogenic by the World Health Organization, and prolonged exposure can lead to damage of the bone marrow, liver and kidneys, the ministry said.
Bromine Compounds, which belongs to Israel Chemicals, produces bromine materials for use in agriculture and in industry.
Although Bromine Compounds went on trial both for failure to report emissions data in 2004 and for repeatedly emitting carcinogens into the air, as a result of a plea bargain reached by the parties, the court only found the company guilty of neglecting to report the data – a violation of the Business Licensing Law.
The court ruled, however, that if Bromine Compounds repeats its offense in the next three years, the company will be required to pay no less than an additional NIS 2 million, the ministry said.
“Israel is too small to have this in our backyards,” Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz said. “We have no intention of allowing anyone to treat air, which belongs to everyone, as private property.”
In response to the ruling, Israel Chemicals emphasized that the offense “occurred in good faith nine years ago.”
“Since, Israel Chemicals has gone a long way with continuous improvements and changes in company sustainability strategies,” a statement from the firm said.
Israel Chemicals has since issued both required and voluntary emissions reports and has published information regarding the company’s carbon footprint, the statement continued.
In the past decade, the firm has invested more than NIS 2 billion in technologies that serve to protect the environment and meet international standards, the response added.
“Israel Chemicals understands that its activities and investments in recent years are an expression of its philosophy and strategy for long-term operation, and will continue to invest in the future, more than any other company in Israel, in protecting the environment,” the company said.
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