(photo credit: SPNI)
Accusing the Gan Rave Regional Council and its chairman of endangering the health of seagoers, the Environmental Protection Ministry has filed an indictment against both due to a string of contamination events at the popular Palmahim Beach.
Among the charges against the regional council and its chairman, Shlomo Elimelech, are violations with respect to water pollution, dumping waste into the sea, waste disposal and pollution of both Palmahim Beach itself and the adjacent Nahal Sorek, the ministry said. The indictment is the result of the findings of two parallel criminal investigations conducted by the ministry’s Marine and Coastal Environment Division, regarding actions committed during the years 2012-2013.
A raw sewage pumping station for Kibbutz Palmahim operates under the jurisdiction of the Gan Rave Regional Council along the beach. For many months throughout 2012 and 2013, raw sewage from the plant flowed directly into Nahal Sorek and the sea, the ministry explained. During the same period, due to the repeated breakdowns of the station’s main pump, the sewage also flowed onto Palmahim Beach itself, the ministry added.
The raw sewage flow was so severe that more than 1,238 times the standard levels of fecal matter permissible by the Health Ministry polluted the seawater, endangering both the groundwater and the coastal aquifer, according to the Environment Ministry.
“The sewage discharge constituted a real danger to beachgoers and to the land and marine ecosystems,” a ministry statement said.
The ministry filed the indictment to the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court. The Gan Rave Regional Council did not respond to multiple queries from The Jerusalem Post by press time.
While the indictment applies to criminal investigations of incidents from 2012- 2013, the Environmental Protection Ministry pointed out that Palmahim Beach is by no means free of pollutants today.
“The Palmahim Sands Beach has ‘won’ for the past several months in a row the dubious title of the most polluted beach in the country and has ranked as ‘very dirty’ in the Clean Coast Index published by the Environmental Protection Ministry,” the statement said.