Air conditions in Haifa Bay acceptable

New survey results showed that factories in the areas do not actually pose unacceptable risks when measured against international standards.

By REBECCA ARATEN
July 9, 2019 21:52
2 minute read.
factory

INSPECTORS EXAMINE a factory in the Haifa Bay area.. (photo credit: ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION MINISTRY)

Factory activities in the Haifa Bay area may pose relatively high risks to Haifa residents – but not altogether unacceptable ones – according to a statement by the Environmental Protection Ministry.

This statement emerges in front of a backdrop of numerous complaints from Haifa Bay residents that the environment is dangerous and unhealthy. On June 24, the state comptroller reported that the region was the most polluted in the country, with little change in air quality over the past four years.

A 2014 report from the state comptroller stated that cancer rates in the region were 15% higher than the national average, and that the rate of asthma among children was at twice the national average.

The comptroller’s past reports have pointed fingers at the Environmental Protection Ministry for not imposing adequate supervision on the region.

According to the ministry, new survey results showed that factories in the areas do not actually pose unacceptable risks when measured against international standards. The ministry attributed this finding to the different regulations and requirements that it has imposed upon factory plants.

Dr. Eli Stern, an expert in the field of assessing the risk of hazardous materials, has been conducting the survey in stages, the first of which was completed and published. The ministry recommended that this survey be carried out, as the populated and industrialized nature of the Haifa Bay area makes it an important place to monitor. Sixty industrial plants operate in the area, which is busy and metropolitan.

The survey examined 1,500 risk factors over the past three years. The results of the survey update a former study that the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research performed 20 years ago.

The standards that the survey used were “more stringent than is customary in the world,” according to the statement. Instead of just focusing on accidental deaths, the survey investigated side effects such as probabilities of mortality and health damage.

There were a number of serious incidents that occurred during the factory operations, however, including leaks, fires and explosions of toxic, flammable and explosive materials.

There were also four factory plants that did qualify as posing a high risk: Dsheinim, Dor, Gadiv and Gadot Mizrach. The ministry plans to subject these plants to additional regulations and to introduce risk management programs.

The ministry’s next steps involve collecting comments from municipalities and councils, to see if they have any information to add to the survey assessment. The ministry has initiated a period for public comments in the wake of its first report, which will continue until August 8. It will then publish the results of the rest of the survey.

Cassandra Gomes-Hochberg contributed to this report.


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