Fishermen at Jaffa Port affected by a 2009 sewage spill will be receiving NIS 1
million in compensation for their work loss, the Tel Aviv District Court
announced on Wednesday.
The incident in question occurred on February 9,
2009, when a compromised sewage pipe led to the leakage of effluent in the city
of Or Yehuda and the surrounding communities, the court explained.
weeks, authorities ignored the leak and the damage caused to the environment, as
each authority involved strived to place responsibility for the repair on each
other. As a result of this negligence and quarreling, sewage flowed
uninterrupted into the Ayalon River, the Yarkon River and onto the beaches of
Tel Aviv and Herzliya, causing extensive contamination and closing down both
cities’ beaches for more than two months, the court said.
As a result,
two class action suits were submitted by those affected by the closure – one
from a group of surfers and sailors from the region and another from the Jaffa
Port fisherman’s association.
The respondents, in turn, rejected the
allegations and denied that wastewater had been flowing into the rivers and sea,
as well as the notion that anyone had suffered as a result of the hazard, the
The judge, Michal Agmon- Gonen, suggested that the two
parties reach a settlement by way of compromise, particularly due to the
difficulty in establishing a division of responsibilities in this case, the
court decision said.
Eventually, the sides reached a settlement
agreement, and the judgment that followed gained approval based on Section 18 of
the Class Action Law, the court added.
Regarding the surfers and sailors’
suit, local authorities will be required to invest in a scientific education
program at a total cost of NIS 1.5m., which will aim to increase the awareness
of maritime pollution.
The project will include three components – a
comprehensive risk survey that reviews potential hazards of future
contamination, the institutionalization of environmental education programs and
an ecological survey of animals and plants inhabiting the beach, according to
the court decision.
As far as the case of the fishermen goes, the
authorities will pay a total of NIS 1m., to be divided among fishermen who
present appropriate documentation.
Because the fishermen suffered from a
loss of livelihood during the time period, they needed to receive direct
financial compensation, Agmon-Gonen ruled.
Meanwhile, the environmental
education program will benefit the entire public, she said.
“The fact is
that there was a failure among these local authorities in handling environmental
hazards, those generated by the authorities and by others,” Agmon- Gonen
“Authorities have almost no external incentive, whether negative or
positive, encouraging them to act responsibly, to internalize the costs of
environmental hazards within their jurisdictions and expedite their removal.”