The Delek Gas Company presented Environmental Protection Minister Gideon Ezra with a plan over the weekend to clean up many of its stations that may have polluted the environment. The company promised to survey and, if need be, clean up 105 stations built before 1997. The most polluted would be tackled first, the company said. The plan, which costs tens of millions of shekels, will be financed entirely by Delek.
However, the Israel Union for Environmental Defense (IUED) slammed the ministry for accepting a private initiative to treat "years of polluting" instead of turning to legislation which is being drafted in the meantime.
"We don't know exactly how big or if there is a problem at all," Delek Deputy Director-General Haim Elmoznino told The Jerusalem Post
Sunday. "A standard was introduced in 1998 for building stations and we followed it. However, there were many stations built according to an old standard before 1998. We will carry out surveys and if, God forbid, we find pollution, we will deal with it."
Elmoznino said the company has promised to finish the surveys and clean up any pollution in what he termed "a very short amount of time" for such a project.
"Within three years, we will have finished the surveys and mapped our strategy. Within six or seven years, we'll have cleaned up the last problematic station," he told the Post
Delek and the Environmental Protection Ministry will be working together on the project. Elmoznino said it had been "pretty simple" to come to an acceptable agreement with the ministry. Delek initiated the program itself, he said, instead of waiting for someone to come to them with complaints.
The ministry said it has already reached similar agreements with the Paz and Sonol networks and hoped to reach one with Dor Alon in the near future. The ministry added that it had no specific knowledge of any pollution at this time and that the initiative had not come about as a result of pressure applied by the ministry.
In response to a query by the Post
, IUED Deputy Director-General Amit Bracha decried the ministry's process.
"It is unfortunate that the Environmental Protection Ministry chooses to adopt a voluntary process for dealing with polluted land, instead of initiating a unified, transparent and clear legal framework [for dealing with pollution].
"Nevertheless, it is praiseworthy that the Delek company decided to recognize its responsibility for polluting the land under its control and... to invest in cleaning up the pollution," he said in an e-mailed statement.
"IUED calls on the environmental protection minister and the gasoline companies to support the bill currently under consideration by the Knesset, which was proposed by Knesset Internal Affairs and Environment Committee head Ophir Paz-Pines [Labor], and conclude the legislative process as quickly as possible.
"It should be stressed that the ground pollution at Delek gas stations is only a small part of the polluted land in Israel which is in need of rehabilitation," he added.