Environment ministry begins to implement asbestos removal

The first phase of the plan will involve evacuating the asbestos from public lands; the next phase will include private areas as well.

April 5, 2011 01:55
1 minute read.
Environment ministry begins to implement asbestos removal

pollution. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)


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After a law for asbestos removal and prohibition passed its second and third Knesset readings this week, the Environmental Protection Ministry announced on Monday that it had begun to implement a project of locating, cleaning up and removing asbestos waste from the ground in Western Galilee.

The initial budget for the project is NIS 20 million, but the ministry estimates that it will reach NIS 300m. during its five-year duration, the report said.

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The Eitanit company, whose former factory on the Nahariya coast was responsible for asbestos accumulation beginning in the 1960s, will bear half the cost of the project – up to the sum of NIS 150m. – according to the ministry.

The first phase of the plan will involve evacuating the asbestos from public lands; the next phase will include private areas as well.

“We are talking about a project that saves lives,” said Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan in a statement. “The new law, which forbids using asbestos, will prohibit the use of a proven carcinogen. Any violation of this law will be considered a criminal offense.

“From now on, the law will be regulating the use of asbestos and treating its associated hazards. In this way, public exposure to known carcinogenic materials will be reduced.”

Among other stipulations, the law will ban the use of any type of asbestos, while phasing out the existing use of friable asbestos in industry and public buildings within 10 years, and in IDF facilities within seven years, the ministry reported.

Meanwhile, asbestos cement in public buildings will need to be properly maintained, and those working with asbestos will have to receive proper training.

Building cement is the most common use for asbestos and the fibers encapsulated in the cement do “not present a danger,” unless the cement “crumbles, breaks or burns,” releasing the asbestos into the air, according to the ministry.

In the case of the Eitanit factory, however, asbestos was used for surfacing trails and paths, yards and parking areas.

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