(photo credit: Amy spiro)
The Unilever Strauss ice cream factory and the Azrieli Mall in Acre should no
longer continue to operate side-by-side, as the ammonia from the plant poses too
much of a risk to those inside the mall, an Environmental Protection Ministry
review has determined.
After an extensive examination of the area, the
ministry submitted an opinion on Wednesday to the appeals board at the northern
region’s Committee for Planning and Building that the simultaneous activity of
both factory and mall poses a threat to public safety.
The ice cream
factory contains very large quantities of ammonia, and there are only seven
meters of separation between the two buildings, according to ministry
In preparing the opinion, the Environmental Protection Ministry
conducted extensive discussions with representatives of the plant about the
possibility of reducing the risks generated by the ammonia. However, after
reviewing the data submitted by the factory, the ministry decided that there can
be no solution in which the two buildings can operate sideby- side.
of the businesses must therefore move to an alternate location, according to the
Ministry officials also stressed that at the time the Azrieli
group applied for a permit to populate the mall, the ministry had filed
objections about the mall being situated next to an existing plant in which
ammonia was stored, but the permit was approved regardless.
circumstances and given the minuscule distance between the buildings, the
ministry recommended the poisons permit for the plant not be renewed, unless the
appeals committee decides to revoke the permission given to populate the
Both at this stage and at the stage when the Planning and Building
Committee originally approved the mall population permit, the Environment
Ministry only had power to state its opinions, rather than veto the plans
entirely, ministry officials explained.
The environmental organization
Zalul praised the ministry’s opinion and its “recognition of the lifethreatening
nature of concentrations of ammonia in the heart of the Acre
The group noted, however, that an ammonia tank in Haifa Bay,
situated next to Rambam Medical Center and populated areas, contains 12,000 tons
of ammonia and is likewise endangering hundreds of thousands of lives.
response to the situation under discussion in Acre, however, Unilever – owners
of the Strauss ice cream factory – stressed that the plant “has been operating
in the city of Acre for 50 years, under all approvals and permits according to
“The factory did and is doing much on the subject of the safety
system, which meets the highest standards currently in effect globally, as well
as in cooperation with the Environmental Protection Ministry,” a statement from
The appeals committee is conducting hearings about the
Azrieli Mall, following the request of the Environment Ministry to cancel the
permit to populate granted to the facility, according to Unilever. The
company maintained, however, “that it is possible to maintain both the factory
and the mall sideby- side.” An Azrieli Group spokewoman said that the company
had no comment about the situation.