The Environmental Protection Ministry called for police to begin a criminal investigation against the managers of the Israel Electric Corporation's Rutenberg Power Plant in Ashkelon.
The Ministry alleged on Wednesday that the plant's managers violated the Environmental Hazard Law, as well as the terms of their business license after a large number of area residents complained of a “strong, unbearable smell,” similar to that of burning gasoline.
The complaints prompted a government inspection of the plant and inspectors allegedly found that the smell was coming from a storage area where coal was being improperly burned.
The Ministry's inspection team issued a warning notice before calling for a criminal investigation.
The maximum punishment for violating a business license of this sort is 18 months in prison or a NIS 75,300 fine, with an additional NIS 1,400 for each day that the violation took place after the warning was issued. As for violating the environmental hazard law, the maximum penalty is six months imprisonment or a NIS 226,000 fine with an additional NIS 11,300 per day after warning.
The IEC said in response that the bad smell came from somewhere else, but not the power plant, but said they would cooperate throughout any investigation.