Environmental Protection Ministry spot checks in 2008 show improvement compared to 2007 figures.
By EHUD ZION WALDOKS
Half of the 42 factories the Environmental Protection Ministry spot checked for air pollution in 2008 failed the inspection, according to a ministry report released on Monday.
That proportion is down from 2007, where 30 of 50 plants failed their surprise inspections. Only a few of the same factories were inspected in 2007 and 2008.
The number of factories and the number of spot inspections has been decreasing every year. In 2007, 50 factories and 87 apparatuses were inspected, whereas in 2008, only 42 factories and 72 apparatuses were examined.
Most of the plants which failed inspection have either already fixed the problem or are in the process of testing new pollution prevention equipment or developing a plan to reduce their emissions, according to the ministry. Thus, spot checks continue to root out problems and force the plants back into compliance with regulations.
Of those factories which were inspected in 2007 as well as in 2008, Taro Pharmaceuticals' Haifa bay factory emitted organic compounds at levels far above the limit both last year and the year before. The ministry is in the process of compelling the firm to implement a clean-up plan by the end of the year. Ministry inspectors pledged follow-up spot checks to ensure the plan was implemented. The company also said it would introduce additives into its gas to reduce pollution.
While the ministry inspected factories all over the country, 12 of the 16 inspected in the Haifa area failed. The Haifa Port area is a high-polluting location of special interest to the ministry.
For example, Haifa area Yetzikot Hamifratz exceeded the limit for micro-particles by 756 percent. In response to the ministry's visit, the factory tightened the filter on its suction machine and the ministry will perform spot checks again to make sure there are no irregularities.
Micro-particles can cause lung damage and breathing difficulties. Many of the other pollutants such as nitrogen oxide and sulfur oxide also affect the respiratory systems. Most of the factories were emitting micro-particles or sulfur oxide. None were emitting carcinogenic substances.
Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan noted, as his predecessor Gideon Ezra also did last year, that the Clean Air Law will make available a series of very serious enforcement tools. The law, set to go into effect at the beginning of 2011, will enable personal accountability of CEOs, heavy fines and even jail time for polluters.
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