Haifa Chemicals' ammonia tank, Israel's largest ammonia tank, is seen in the Haifa bay area.
(photo credit: REUTERS/BAZ RATNER)
Environment Ministry director- general Yisrael Danziger may have committed crimes in trying to help the Haifa Chemicals Corporation in the controversy over shutting down its major Haifa ammonia facility, the state comptroller notified the attorney-general on Tuesday.
State Comptroller Joseph Shapira said that Danziger allegedly had not followed rules of a conflict of interest arrangement which had been set for him regarding the issue, and that other officials may also be involved.
Shapira explained that the Environment Ministry’s policy regarding shutting down the ammonia facility and its evaluation of the facts had flipped too suddenly and too wildly, raising suspicion that it was under criminal influence of Haifa Chemicals.
He added that some facts stated by the ministry also appeared to be inaccurate or blatantly unconfirmed.
“Based on this, there are suspicions of improper factors influencing the actions of some of the professional state officials responsible for the issue and even a suspicion of violating” criminal laws.
Environment Ministry officials said on Tuesday night in response to the state comptroller’s allegations that they were “shocked to hear from the media about these accusations, and up until this moment has not received any explanation or information regarding them. Once we receive the material in its entirety, we can respond to the merits of the matter,” a statement from the ministry said.
“It should be emphasized that all the activities of the Environmental Protection Ministry in this area were fully based on the recommendations of experts in the field from Israel and abroad, and were accompanied closely by legal authorities, in light of the fact that the subject was discussed in various legal proceedings,” the statement continued.
Sharon Udasin contributed to this report.