A cloud of dust during unloading at the Haifa port.
(photo credit: AYA HECHT/ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION MINISTRY)
The Environmental Protection Ministry has fined the Haifa Port NIS 3,660,800, saying it has been unloading goods illegally and thereby violating the Clean Air Law.
For months, the ministry said on Monday, the port’s management ignored ministry regulations, causing dust to spread beyond the boundaries of the facility and into residential areas. Such violations have caused a spread of respirable particles that pose a danger to the human respiratory system, according to the ministry.
The fine comes after several weeks in which media reports cited Health Ministry statements linking higher than normal cancer rates to air pollution in the Haifa Bay area and indicating a heightened incidence of childhood cancer than in the rest of the country.
While the Health Ministry eventually said the latter statement was inaccurate, tensions have remained high regarding the air pollution in the region.
The Environment Ministry said the port is required to take all measures possible to reduce pollution, including the installation of special technologies to monitor dust emissions during unloading processes.
Such technologies were not installed, and nor were specifically requested cameras, the ministry added.
“Along with uncompromising enforcement, we are preparing a national plan to further reduce air pollution in the Haifa Bay,” Environmental Protection Ministry director general David Lefler said. “Haifa residents need to know that when the dust of the media is scattered, there is someone taking care of them.”
The port’s management said that the site is in fact using the most technologically advanced monitoring systems available.
The conclusions drawn from these monitoring technologies show that the pollution is coming from the city of Haifa itself and not from the port, the management said.
“The Haifa Port does not produce any pollutants for the city of Haifa, and this can be said unequivocally,” the management said continued. “For years no pollution was measured from the port in the city of Haifa. No such data has ever been presented to the Haifa Port by Environmental Protection Ministry officials.”