Ramat Hovav report draws criticism

Industrialists need only institute pollution control measures, according to the report.

Ramat Hovav 298 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Ramat Hovav 298
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Environmental Protection Ministry, in conjunction with the Dutch firm DHV, has found that if the industrialists of Ramat Hovav instituted pollution control measures and the European standard IPPC, there would be no threat to the IDF training base scheduled to be built nearby by 2010. The base is scheduled to be opened in 2012. The Environmental Protection Ministry released a summary of the latest report on Monday. The report, which is not the final draft, immediately drew harsh criticism from the Israel Union of Environmental Defense (IUED) and MK Yossi Beilin (Meretz-Yahad), who is a member of the Knesset Internal Affairs and Environment Committee. The ministry said that they used computer simulations to predict the spread of 12 potent pollutants. The ministry did note that they measured the release of polluting chemicals during business as usual and not in the event of an explosion or accident. The report was released ahead of a meeting of the committee scheduled for Tuesday to discuss the planning process for building the base. However, IUED immediately attacked the report and its findings, saying the model used in the report was flawed and therefore unreliable. They also pointed out that every version of the report had admitted that there was insufficient data for definitively assessing the threat from Ramat Hovav. The environmental group also criticized the selection of just 12 potential pollutants rather than what they claimed were the hundreds of potentially dangerous chemicals in use at the Ramat Hovav factories. Moreover, the IUED said, the ministry's plan called for a reduction of over 90% of air pollution in just three years, something which they deemed very unrealistic. The ministry's report utilized three different scenarios to predict the effect on the area. The first scenario predicted the threat in the current situation, the second at the end of 2008 after several chimneys were fitted with pollution reducing mechanisms and the third, once the IPPC standard was instituted by 2010. According to the report, in the current situation, there were two chemicals which were found to be in unacceptable concentrations and one more which was almost at dangerous levels. By 2008, they predicted that would drop to one and by 2010, to none. The report has been in the works since 2005 and has not yet been released in its entirety to the general public. The ministry said it would release the latest version in the second half of February. Beilin, meanwhile, sent a letter to the relevant ministers involved, questioning the report and the government's decision to move forward with the construction of the training base. "First of all, how was a schedule to erect the training base decided upon and actions taken to plan it if the document which serves as the basis for all that, as per your announcement and your admission, is not final and inconclusive?" he asked. "Second, if it is your intention to base your decision on this report, in light of its serious findings, does it not require of us to reevaluate and put together a different and more responsible plan, which includes an appropriate timetable and definite conditions to ensure the public and the soldiers' health before beginning construction," he wrote.