Knesset passes law that targets polluters

Stats show Israelis produced 6.9 million tons of waste in 2007.

air pollution 88 (photo credit:)
air pollution 88
(photo credit: )
It will no longer be more economically feasible for companies to pollute than to treat and prevent pollution, according to a new law that was passed on Tuesday evening. The Polluter Pays Law was proposed by MKs Dov Henin (Hadash) and Michael Melchior (Labor-Meimad). It doubles the fines on 13 environmental violations already on the books, such as the one that prohibits polluting the sea. Fines of up to NIS 2.4 million can now be leveled, as well as prison sentences of up to three years. What's more, companies can now be fined before the end of criminal proceedings against them. "Until today, most environmental damage was caused because of economic interests and not from mistakes, because it was financially very worthwhile to pollute in Israel," Henin said after the law passed with a unanimous 34 votes. "The law makes polluting not worth it financially by effectively punishing the large polluters." The passage marks a triumvirate of major environmental legislation that the 17th Knesset has passed. Last week the Clean Air Act was passed and recently a law providing more authority to municipal workers in enforcing environmental regulations also passed. Meanwhile, the Environmental Protection Ministry released statistics Tuesday showing that Israelis produced 6.9 million tons of waste in 2007. That number includes both industrial and building waste. According to Ilan Nissim, head of the ministry's solid-waste branch, an average citizen creates 1.58 kg. per day, or 577 kg. per year. While the largest waste producers by city were Tel Aviv and Jerusalem (358,000 tons and 347,000 tons respectively), both cities actually produced less in 2007 than in 2000. Somewhat surprisingly, the five local authorities with the highest waste-per-person ratio were the Tamar local region (which contains several hotels) with 12.86 kg. per person; Rosh Pina at 6.36 kg. per person; Ramat Negev with 4.38 kg. per person; the Beit Shean Valley with 4.18 kg. per person; and the Jordan Valley with 4.13 kg. per person. The Coalition for Public Health said after the vote that their extensive lobbying had ensured the bill's passage, despite the government not throwing its full support behind the bill.