The rehabilitation of the river could be neglected while plans are being made to redevelop the port at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars.
The planned redevelopment of Haifa port could prove to be a "disaster" for the already polluted Kishon River, according to Haifa councillor and Kishon River Authority member Itzik Regev. As reported in the Hebrew weekly Yediot Haifa, Regev said it was "beyond belief" that the rehabilitation of the river could be neglected while plans are being made to redevelop the port at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars.
According to the report, Regev said that for the past four years various environment ministers ignored recommendations to create a joint committee comprising representatives from the municipality, the Israel Ports Company and the Kishon River Authority to oversee the redevelopment work. He said inappropriate development of the port could cause irreversible damage to the river, and urged the authorities to set up the long-delayed joint committee to supervise the plans. "It saddens me that ministers who are not well-versed in the subject are causing severe environmental damage," Regev said.
Meanwhile in a separate article, Yediot Haifa reports that the Kishon River Authority has appealed against a decision by the local planning and construction committee to allow the Israel Ports Company to begin work on preparing the grounds next to the port for the storage of shipping containers. According to the report, the authority is saying the designated area encroaches on land belonging to the river, and the committee exceeded its authority by allowing the work to go ahead. The appeal is to be heard by the district planning and construction appeals committee.
On Monday morning this week, the river was seriously contaminated after a municipal contractor reportedly ruptured a sewerage pipe by mistake, releasing massive amounts of sewage from the krayot area into the Kishon. Environmental protection minister Gidon Ezra immediately ordered an investigation into the incident, and a Kishon River Authority spokesperson voiced concerns about severe ecological damage and the welfare of animals living in and around the river. No official assesment of the environmental harm caused by the incident was available by press time.
In another story, Yediot Haifa reports that the Haifa Magistrates' Court has ordered the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel to pay NIS 194,000 to the Kishon River Authority in overdue membership fees. According to the report, the authority took the case to court, claiming the society had not paid its membership fees for the years 1998 to 2004. The society argued that its membership was the responsibility of the Ministry of Environmental Protection. But the court ruled that the society had to bear the membership fees, and added a further NIS 5,000 in court costs to the sum.