‘Negligence’ by IDF contractor floods stream with sewage

Alexander stream had been undergoing rehabilitation since 1997 but has now been polluted.

polluted stream 311 (photo credit: Zalul)
polluted stream 311
(photo credit: Zalul)
Suspected negligence by an IDF contractor working on the West Bank security barrier caused massive amounts of raw sewage to spew into Alexander Stream and overwhelm the waste treatment center last Tuesday, the Environmental Protection Ministry said.
The Alexander Stream has been undergoing rehabilitation since 1997. One of its major threats is one of its tributaries, the Shechem Stream, which flows from the West Bank.
Sewage and garbage are routinely thrown into the stream from Nablus and Tulkarm, Emek Hefer Regional Council Spokesman Haim Altman told The Jerusalem Post.
To prevent that sewage from contaminating the Alexander Stream, the council put in a grate several years ago and also erected a waste treatment plant specifically to treat the water that flows from the Shechem Stream. The treated water is then returned to the Alexander Stream.
The grate, however, runs under the security barrier.
The agreement worked out with the Defense Ministry, after several such similar incidents in the past, was that if the ministry was planning on opening the grate, it needed to first clean it out and also inform the Emek Hefer Regional Council that the grate was going to be opened.
However, on Monday night, the contractor apparently opened the grate without cleaning it out first and without informing anyone, the Environmental Protection Ministry said. The sewage and debris which had gathered behind the grate burst forth and polluted the Alexander Stream and has totally overwhelmed the waste treatment center, Altman said.
Teams from the council were out all Tuesday cleaning up the sewage and teams from the North Sharon Union of Cities sprayed against mosquitoes, he said.
The Environmental Protection Ministry said it had sent teams to assess the damage as well.
Council head Rani Idan sent an urgent letter to Defense Minister Ehud Barak, copied to Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan, complaining that once again the defense establishment had put the rehabilitation of the stream at risk by not adhering to the protocol worked out six months earlier.
The IDF Spokesman's Office responded by saying, “Close to the security barrier in the region of the Alexander Stream is infrastructure whose purpose is to prevent the flowing of wastewater from Judea and Samaria into the stream.
During the course of maintenance of the infrastructure, a situation was created in which wastewater flowed into the Alexander Stream.
“The IDF is distressed over the damage to the stream. As a result of the incident, the matter will be investigated and actions taken as a result.”