|Photo by: Illustrative photo/Reinhard Krause/Reuters|
Ministry launches bill on oil spills
By SHARON UDASIN
Bill will regulate preparedness and response routines for coping with marine and beach-side oil spills.
The Environmental Protection Ministry issued a bill on Monday to regulate
preparedness and response routines for coping with marine and beach-side oil
If passed, the bill would obligate all authorities that have
stretches of beach or sea within their jurisdictions – such as local
authorities, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, ports, factories, security
installations and oil and gas exploration and extraction stations – to prepare
plans for handling incidents of sea and coastal contamination by oil, as well as
provisions for coping with the aftermath of such events. A relevant body that
fails to organize such a system and neglects to take action in a timely manner
after such a spill will be subject to fines of up to NIS 452,000 or a year of
imprisonment for site administrators, the ministry said.
the respective companies’ and authorities’ plans must contain details as to how
the various bodies will prepare for such incidents, including equipment
allocation, contaminated sand treatment, analyses of waste protocols and other
methods of handling the event, according the Environmental Protection Ministry.
Each individual plan must be updated every five years.
As part of
building a national preparedness system for sea pollution, the Environmental
Protection Ministry will be equipping itself with two ships to combat sea
pollution and a control vessel, and will be establishing two sea pollution
prevention stations in Haifa and Ashkelon, the ministry said.
the office will be setting aside 10 percent of its Fund for the Prevention of
Seawater Pollution By Oil for managing oil spill situations in which either the
polluter is unknown or it is impossible to collect the compensatory funds due to
The fines will vary according to the gravity of the violation
and will range from NIS 25,000 to NIS 50,000 for individuals and NIS 200,000 to
NIS 400,000 for corporations. In particularly severe cases, the
infringement could be deemed a criminal offense, such as failure to submit a
plan entirely or to implement training activities, which could cost an
individual half a year in jail or NIS 75,000 fine and NIS 125,00 for a
corporation, according to the ministry. If the responsible body fails to
take any action whatsoever to stop or prevent the spread of a polluting
incident, an individual could face imprisonment or an NIS 226,000 fine and NIS
452,000 for a corporation.
“For the first time, we are building a system
that will enable coping with difficult incidents of marine pollution,” said
Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan in a statement released by his
“We cannot continue to sit back idly in hopes that nothing will
happen. We must recognize that Israel’s maritime territory has become a
‘tumultuous road’ for freighters, and it is necessary to be prepared in the
event of pollution in order to prevent environmental disasters, as has already
occurred in other countries.”
Israel has a particularly high risk of sea
and coastal contamination events, as about 30% of global marine trade occurs
through the Mediterranean, according to the ministry. Freighters transport about
360 million tons of oil across the Mediterranean each year, and at any given
moment, there are about 2,000 merchant ships in the sea. Meanwhile, about 60
maritime accidents occur per year and thus pollute the sea with
While it is impossible to completely prevent sea accidents and oil
contamination from occurring, the bill intends to provide an array of measures
that will minimize damages during any given event, and thereby reduce the
resultant environmental and economic damage, the ministry said.