Ramat Hovav, Haifa Port pollution tops Ministry's priorities list

Environmental Protection Ministry's 13-part work plan outlined at governmental conference to present the work plans for the new year.

The Environmental Protection Ministry's top priority in 2008 is to treat the pollution emanating from the Ramat Hovav Industrial Park in the Negev and the Haifa Port. The ministry's 13-part work plan was outlined Tuesday at a governmental conference to present the ministries' work plans for the new year. The ministry's agenda for 2008 focused on reducing pollution, especially air pollution, as well as assessing Israel's contribution to global warming. According to the ministry, air quality in Israel is lower than the average for Western countries. To improve it, the ministry plans to adopt and enforce the European IPPC standard as well as adjust legislation to dovetail with government environmental policy. The Integrated Pollution and Prevention Control requires highly polluting industries to acquire a permit of environmental approval to operate. Finally, the ministry intends to set up filtering systems on electricity plants. By September 2009, the ministry hopes to be ready to act to reduce the country's greenhouse gas emissions in line with the Kyoto Protocol and the agreements reached last month in Bali (50 percent reduction by 2050 as compared to 2000). Much of 2008 will be devoted to a thorough examination of Israel's situation and coming up with a plan to reduce GHG levels. Preventing ground and water pollution is also high on the ministry's priority list. Around 1,000 polluted sites are already known and the ministry plans to identify more. Ground and water are polluted mainly by the gas companies, industry and the IDF, according to the ministry. The ministry will also attempt to improve the environment for specific communities throughout Israel such as: haredim, Beduin in the South, Arabs in the Galilee, and the area around Lod. Items 12 and 13 on the ministry's agenda call for the protection and expansion of open spaces for the public's enjoyment and for protecting Israel's diverse wildlife. To that end, 16 metropolitan parks are planned, one has been completed and five are in advanced stages of completion. The ministry will also support the establishment of 100 community gardens by the end of 2009.