09/07/2015
MoEP Files Charges Against Haifa Factories that Caused Pollution
Massive pile of untreated hazardous waste sludge on ORL site
 
The Ministry of Environmental Protection (MoEP) has filed charges against three subsidiaries of The Oil Refineries Ltd Group: Oil Refineries Ltd. (ORL), Carmel Olefins and Gadiv Petrochemical Industries. The ministry says the companies are guilty of causing air pollution, failing to install equipment that would have reduced emissions from storage containers in their factories, and ignoring MoEP demands that they remove toxins and hazardous waste from their factory sites.

​According to the indictments, the companies were guilty of the aforementioned actions between 2010-2013. The charges came in the wake of a criminal investigation conducted by the MoEP’s Green Police. Both the factories and some senior managers were named.

The most serious charge was filed against ORL, which refines crude oil and manufactures and sells petroleum products. Investigators said emissions from ORL smokestacks exceeded maximum permitted values. It also violated personal decrees and ignored the ministry’s requests that it install equipment that would reduce emissions from storage tanks containing MTBE, an organic material that could harm the health of those exposed to it. In addition, a massive 28,000 ton pile of hazardous waste sludge has accumulated in the yard of the factory, and ORL has not treated it despite MoEP requests. This could cause the emission of carcinogenic volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the environment.

According to the indictments against Gadiv and Carmel Olefins, which manufacture raw materials for the plastics and chemicals industries, there were excessive flue gas emissions from the factories. Values of carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides exceeded the maximum permitted values and may have endangered the health of nearby residents.

MoEP Director General David Leffler: "It is important to note that in recent years, there has been a double-digit decrease in dangerous emissions from ORL plants, thanks to the strict enforcement of the MoEP and investments made by ORL. This is a direct continuation of the zero tolerance policy against factories who have committed offenses, and a continuation of our struggle to reduce air pollution in Haifa Bay. The unequivocal message to industry is: We will use all enforcement tools at our disposal, including the closure of polluting factories."