West Bank dumping stirs protest

Possible contamination of water has local residents concerned.

By EHUD ZION WALDOKS
October 5, 2008 22:43
2 minute read.
West Bank dumping stirs protest

quarry west bank 24 88. (photo credit: Courtesy )

 
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A controversial project to turn a West Bank quarry into a dumping site has been resurrected in a slightly different format in recent months, prompting concern among local residents and environmental organizations about possible contamination of water supplies. The Baron Industrial Park Company would like to turn the Abu Shusheh quarry just outside Deir Sharaf, near Nablus, into a building-waste dump site for both area residents and perhaps Israeli waste shipped over the Green Line as well. The company is a joint endeavor of the Kedumim and Karnei Shomron town councils and the Samaria Regional Council. Residents held a demonstration at the site on August 26 in protest, concerned the project could pollute their water sources. However, the project could also pose more than a local threat if not done properly, as the mountain aquifer runs below the quarry and could be contaminated as well. One third of Israel's water comes from the aquifer. A previous initiative by the company to dump waste exclusively from Israel proper was stopped through the legal efforts of the Israel Union for Environmental Defense (IUED) in 2005. IUED, in conjunction with B'Tselem, contended, in a case that went all the way to the Supreme Court, that it was against international law to ship waste across the Green Line to be dumped on occupied territory. They argued that dumping potentially contaminating waste violated the rights of local residents. In light of IUED's efforts, the Civil Administration froze the plan until it could be modified to comply with international law and Israeli regulations. Now it seems as though the project has been revived. Yitzhak (Itche) Meir, head of the Municipal Environmental Associations of Judea and Samaria, who is overseeing the project for the Baron company, told The Jerusalem Post late last week that there were two differences with this adaptation of the project. First, he said, the proposed project would be just for dry waste such as building waste. The earlier plan called for storage of "reject" waste, which contains small amounts of organic material and therefore has a higher pollution potential. Secondly, this time the surrounding Israeli settlements and perhaps even Palestinian villages would mostly dump in the quarry with perhaps some waste being transported from the other side of the Green Line, he told the Post. It is legal to export waste to the territories if local waste is also being collected, he said. The Civil Administration has given planning permission to the company thus far but nothing else, an Administration spokesman told the Post. Meir said the plans included sealing the bottom of the site as well as other measures to ensure there would not be any polluting leaks. While IUED had not heard about the latest plans, organization head Tzipi Iser Itsik said they would be looking into it very carefully in light of the information brought to their attention by the Post. "If it has been decided to renew the plan, we plan to check if it adheres to the conditions the IDF Command and the Civil Administration affirmed to the Supreme Court they would uphold," she said via e-mail. "[We will also check] to make sure the new plan does not violate international law, nor does it contradict environmental principles or environmental justice." "As is our wont, we do not intend to give up our role as the guard dog of public and environmental interests especially not when those interests were fully recognized and delineated by the judges of the Supreme Court in Jerusalem," she added.

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