Illegal dump 'could explode at any time'

Environmental Protection Ministry warns dangerous buildup of bio-gases could create massive catastrophe.

kinneret caption! 224.88 (photo credit: Jonathan Beck)
kinneret caption! 224.88
(photo credit: Jonathan Beck)
A quarry illegally turned into a garbage dump could explode at any moment because of a dangerous buildup of bio-gases, the Environmental Protection Ministry warned this week. The ministry issued orders to three recycling companies to clean up the dump, which lies 700 meters from the Poriya Hospital and 100 meters from an asphalt factory. Because of the seriousness of the issue, the ministry sent a letter to the hospital, to local authorities, and to various relevant government agencies warning them of the threat to life, limb and property. The ministry ordered Amnir Recycling Industries, Tamam Recycling and Waolia Environmental Services to immediately deal with the bio-gas leaking from the site and to remove the garbage piling up. They also ordered the companies to seal the top of the quarry to prevent rain from getting in and creating more of the gas. The companies must also put a fence and signs around the site warning people not to smoke or light fires in the area. The companies were further ordered to carry out an environmental damage assessment and then to rehabilitate the quarry. The ministry gave them three months to comply with the order. The current problems were discovered in late February when the ministry came to inspect the site. It found that despite repeated requests to rehabilitate the site over the years after its quarrying days were over, the only thing that had been done was to lay a layer of earth over the garbage dump. Officials came back a week later with monitoring equipment and discovered the leaking gas. Yossi Bar-Niv, national quarry inspector for the Israel Lands Administration, told The Jerusalem Post Tuesday that while the Poriya quarry itself had been approved, its subsequent use as a garbage dump had not. "They never received permission from anyone to dump garbage in the quarry," he said. Moreover, "the decomposing garbage is leaking into the nearby Lake Kinneret," he said. The quarry-turned-dump lies one kilometer from the lake's shore. Bar-Niv, who also sits on the executive committee of the government's Foundation to Rehabilitate Quarries, said that thus far they had not received any request to rehabilitate the site. The Foundation rehabilitates quarries all over the country - blending the aesthetically unpleasant sites back into their natural surroundings. "If we receive a request, we'd be happy to go in and rehabilitate it," he said.