Carmel Chemicals' hazardous materials license revoked

The Environmental Protection Ministry has refusedto extend Carmel Chemicals' license to handle hazardous chemicalsbeyond Tuesday, the ministry announced Monday, because of its failureto implement proper environmental practices at its factory in Atlit.

Inresponse to the imminent revocation of its license, the factory'smanagement has forced its 150 employees to take unpaid leave or starteating into their vacation days, since without a license the factorycannot operate.

Carmel Chemicals, which produces amino molding compounds, hasbeen the subject of repeated ministry reprimands and inspections overthe last several months. As a result of a court decision, the factoryhad agreed to take several steps to clean up its act.

However, according to the ministry, while the factory did drainan evaporation pool, they did it in such a way that causedenvironmental damage. Moreover, residents of the surroundingcommunities complained of headaches and burning eyes apparently as aresult of gases released when the pool was drained, the ministry added.

During a surprise inspection last week, vastquantities of hazardous chemicals and ammonia were discovered - farabove the amounts allowed under its license. The factory has alsofailed to properly seal its production lines or install proper filters,the ministry said.

The ministry deplored the factory's use of its employees in adispute "which has nothing to do with the employees themselves," andsaid that while they were concerned with the loss of income theemployees would incur, the potential for severe environmental damageand threat to the health of the surrounding communities in Atlit forcedtheir hand.

They also took a jab at the factory's propaganda efforts.

"We deplore the fact that the factory's management is using itsemployees and their incomes instead of investing in repair of theenvironmental problems which were presented to them long ago," theministry said, in a statement.

The factory's management reportedly referred to the loss of itslicense as a death sentence if it was not returned within two weeks'time. They also said that the ministry's actions were inexplicablesince they were in the process of implementing all of the demands.

The ministry said that if Carmel Chemicals complied with itsdemands, then there was no reason the license could not be reissued.

However, the factory's owner, Gil Dankner, had apparently been planning for such a contingency. Calcalistreported that he plans to merge the factory with another one he owns inthe Haifa port and turn the land in Atlit into a residential complex.

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