As a result of the oil spill that ravaged the Arava Desert this December, the Eilat-Ashkelon Pipeline Company will be recognized as the worst environmental offender for the year in Israel, at this Tuesday’s Green Globe awards ceremony.
The 12th annual Green Globe event, held this year in Jerusalem as part of Knesset Environment Day, identifies nine companies, individuals and organizations that have most positively influenced Israel’s environmental sector – and also deems one entity the worst transgressor.
Organized by Life and Environment, the umbrella movement for all of Israel’s 130 environmental groups, the awards ceremony brings together hundreds of green activists from all over the country each year.
While the ceremony mainly focuses on environmental excellence, the Life and Environment judges said that the infamous “Black Globe” will be granted to EAPC, after the company’s infrastructure leaked some 5 million liters of oil into the Arava Desert and Evrona Nature Reserve on December 3.
“Within hours it became clear that this was one of the largest ecological disasters we had ever known, that it had damaged about 1,000 dunams and created a risk of damage to a rich variety of animals in the nature reserve,” a statement from Life and Environment said.
Stressing that recovery from the incident could take decades or more, the judging committee pointed out that this is not the first such spill for which EAPC has been responsible over the years. Accusing the government-owned company of operating in secrecy and without transparency, the organization said that EAPC “ignored the state comptroller’s reports on severe leakage events in recent years.”
“Contamination incidents in recent years highlight the need for an urgent reexamination and modification of the supervision of EAPC,” Life and Environment said.
In response, a statement from EAPC said that the company “does not belittle the event and its consequences, regrets the damage done and is working to restore [the area] to its previous circumstances.”
EAPC is the sole entity directly bearing the rehabilitation costs, and has invested significant resources in environmental and preventative measures, as well as emergency system maintenance, the statement said.
“Most green organizations complimented and appreciated the activities of EAPC on environmental issues over the years and in past events,” the company said.
“We regret that this particular and exceptional incident, which is not representative, reflects on all of the company’s vast work on environmental protection.
“EAPC is an energy gateway to the State of Israel, operates hundreds of kilometers of pipelines used by the energy sector, and provides most of the crude oil in the State of Israel to oil refineries and other entities,” the company added. “Its operations are critical to the functioning of the economy, and it has worked reliably and efficiently for decades.”
Although Life and Environment chose EAPC to receive the Black Globe, the organization has selected nine winners of “Green Globes” to be recognized for their environmental excellence.
The general Green Globe is being presented to members of the Save Adullam campaign, who successfully combated the advancement of an oil shale drilling program in the region, located in the Judean lowlands near Beit Shemesh. The Life and Environment judges praised these activists for their constant presence in the public arena, their organization of mass events and their involvement in political discussions – which ultimately led to the regional planning committee’s decision to reject the pilot drilling program.
Beersheba Mayor Rubik Danilovich will be receiving a Green Globe for urban sustainability, for leading a process of continual environmental improvements on a municipal level. Establishing “environmental anchors” in the Negev city with transparency and public participation, Danilovich has recruited a number of new officials in the sector, overseen master plans for emissions and environmental education, worked on urban waste management and increased green areas around the city, the judges said.
The Green Globe for green activism is going to the Stop Oil Drilling in the Golan Heights group, which is currently working against ongoing exploratory drilling being carried out by the Afek Oil and Gas Company.
The judges described the activists as a group of volunteers who are “working to prevent the establishment of a polluting oil industry on the Golan Heights, and maintain the rural and natural character of the area.”
Yaakov Laks will be awarded the environmental volunteer Green Globe for his 30 years of fighting against environmental destruction in his city of Arad, the Life and Environment judges said. Since the beginning of the 1980s, Laks has been working to combat the establishment of phosphate mines in the Arad Valley, and has acted with persistence and creativity for the benefit of public health along the way, the organization said.
Due to its success bringing Jerusalem residents efficient means of travel when other transportation is not available, the Shabus startup will be receiving the Green Globe for sustainable transportation. A cooperative organization that does not fall under the title of public transportation, Shabus powers minibuses on regular routes through neighborhoods in central Jerusalem, currently on Friday nights, but it soon is expanding to additional weekend hours, the judges explained.
The Green Globe for environmental education is being granted to the Julis Local Council and its mayor, Salman Amer, for the green accomplishments in this Galilee Druse village. Community leaders and educators have mobilized all of the residents to environmental causes by installing programs everywhere from kindergartens to schools to youth movements to women’s activities to elderly centers, the judges said.
In the business sector, a Green Globe is being awarded to the Dizengoff Center in Tel Aviv, whose owners have become “pioneers in the promotion of urban sustainability,” according to Life and Environment.
The center has installed energy- and water-saving projects, as well as a hydroponic agricultural roof that supplies products to the restaurants within the mall, the judges said. In addition, the center has voluntarily adopted a waste separation program and has established nesting areas for swifts as well as biodynamic beehives, they added.
The staff members of the Center for Regional Councils will be receiving the public service Green Globe for their work in preserving open spaces in regional councils around Israel. Recently, the center launched a planning guide for the management of open spaces, which the judges called “a significant landmark in strengthening the commitment of regional councils and their positions on preservation.”
A final Green Globe, in the public personality category, will be presented on Tuesday to MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz) for her commitment to urban issues, transportation and Israel’s environmental movement, the Life and Environment judges said. The organization praised her for establishing the sustainable transport and urban lobbies in the Knesset, actively promoting the opening of public beaches and leading enforcement action against polluters.