Factory emissions levels fall again in 2014

A power station is seen in Ashdod (photo credit: REUTERS)
A power station is seen in Ashdod
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Factory emissions fell for a second year in 2014 with Israel Oil Refineries Ltd. remaining the country’s worst polluter, according to an Environmental Protection Ministry report released Monday night.
Although varying from contaminant to contaminant, air pollution levels dropped as much as 53 percent in 2014 in comparison to those in 2012 – after falling as much as 40% in 2013, according to the newly published figures.
The ministry unveiled the data, which includes a survey of 507 factories and their emissions levels, among other information, in its 2014 Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (PRTR).
Topping the chart of the most offending factories in terms of emissions release was Israel Oil Refineries Ltd. (Bazan), for the second consecutive year. The ministry stressed that its officials, this year, have filed four indictments against the company’s factories, for various air and water pollution events.
“We will continue to take every measure against pollution, because protection of public health and air quality is our main priority,” said Environmental Protection Ministry director-general Yisrael Danzinger.
“The plan that focuses on reducing pollution in the Haifa Bay will be expanded to additional areas, while providing accessibility to all information in a transparent and detailed manner to the citizens of Israel.”
Danzinger was referring to the National Action Plan for the Haifa Bay Area – measures approved in August by the government to curb air pollution in a particularly problematic region.
Trailing ORL in the list of factories with the highest emissions levels were the Paz Ashdod Oil Refinery, Hadera Paper Ltd., Rotem Amfert Negev Ltd., the Israel Electric Corporation’s Haifa power station, Dead Sea Works, Tnuva’s Tel Yosef Dairy, the IEC’s Eshkol power station in Ashdod, Carmel Olefins Ltd. and Shemen Industries Ltd.
Responding to the report, ORL said it actually “is indicative of the drastic continued improvement in the environmental performance of ORL since the index presents an improvement of 22% from the previous year.”
ORL added that it has invested more than NIS 1 billion in environmental efforts since its privatization in 2007, such as new facilities and advanced technologies to reduce emissions.
The company, however, describing the rankings as “problematic” in their methodology, pointing out a lack of distinction among industry types while stressing that the firm’s emissions are normal in comparison to refineries around the world.
Looking at the emissions levels of specific contaminants at factories around the country, the PRTR showed that from 2012 to 2014 carbon monoxide levels dropped 53%; PM10 – particulate matter with a diameter of 10 microns or less – declined 53%; fine particulate matter fell 46%; methane 36%; sulfur oxides 31%; nitrogen oxides 29%; and carbon dioxide 18%.
The cities with the highest pollution levels in 2014 were Haifa, Ramat Hovav, Ashdod, Ibilin, Petah Tikva and Netanya.
In addition to measuring factory-emissions levels, the report presented a an environmental- risk analysis ranking for 40 public companies, 100 factories and about 1,000 fueling stations – examining their discharge of pollutants to the air, land and water resources, as well as their compliance to environmental legislation.
The complete data set is available to the public on the ministry’s website.
“A troubling picture is painted of the unreasonable concentration of polluting industries in the Haifa Bay,” MK Dov Henin (Hadash-Joint List), chairman of the Knesset’s Social Environmental Lobby, wrote Tuesday in a letter to Environmental Protection Minister Avi Gabbay to express his alarm over some of the figures in the PRTR, noting that four of the 10 most polluting factories are located there.
Although praising the National Action Plan for the Haifa Bay Area, Henin stressed the need to cancel plans to expand ORL and construct a new port, as well as the Northern Lands project – which involves relocating oil tankers to build new residences.
“All three plans will increase pollution hazards,” he said.
The ministry’s release of factory- emissions data in a PRTR is in accordance with an amendment passed in April 2012 requiring industries to report their pollutant releases. Beginning the project had been a condition for Israel’s membership in the OECD.
Israel officially acceded to PRTR – also known as the Kiev Protocol – in January 2013, approximately 10 years after it was first adopted at the Aarhus Convention.