Haifa Bay. Photo: Ilan Malester
The MoEP is obligated to publish a quarterly review of actions taken within the framework of the five year Haifa Bay action plan, aimed at improving the environment in and around Haifa Bay.
The past quarter was marked by a number of major achievements, including:
- Pollutant emissions from factories continue their downward trend. Since 2009, there has been a 58%-90% reduction in industrial emissions (depending on the pollutant).
- We have completed our mission to create stricter conditions to be included in emissions discharge permits for the 25 largest factories in Haifa Bay. (Conditions for the final company – Oil Refineries Ltd. – have been published for public comments.) These conditions define an outline for reducing emissions in accordance with the target set in Government Decision No. 529 – a 50% reduction of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) by 2018.
- We have organized public meetings regarding the discharge permits of Gadiv Petrochemicals and Carmel Olefins, subsidiaries of Oil Refineries Ltd. (ORL). In the wake of those discussions, the MoEP added more conditions to their permits.
- We have issued an order for the immediate repair/upgrade of equipment at Carmel Olefins, after the company acknowledged a significant increase in non-point source pollution leaks from its Haifa plant. The factory was temporarily shut down while the factories installed emission reduction equipment and did maintenance work. This resulted in a reduction of 200 tons of VOC emissions.
- Data from 71 monitoring stations, with information about pollutant emissions from 48 smokestacks in 14 Haifa Bay factories, are continuously published and publicly available.
- 24 inspections have been conducted in 19 large factories; half were surprise inspections.
- 341 surprise tests were conducted at 44 smokestacks in 11 factories; 10 factories were tested for non-point source leaks.
MoEP Director General Yisrael Dancziger: "We are continuing to focus MoEP activities on reducing air pollution and the morbidity it causes. This is a national task of paramount importance in Israel in general, and in particular in the Haifa Bay area. This quarter we continued implementing the program in full swing, constantly striving to meet the targets set. Despite the significant improvement in air quality in recent years due to the Ministry’s activities, there is still a lot more to be done, and we will continue to reduce air pollution for the residents of Haifa and for the entire country."
- The second and final stage is underway in the tender process to build an ammonia factory in Israel’s southern Negev. We have published financial conditions that will enable establishment of the factory, and have begun to conduct a risk assessment. Building an ammonia factory in the south will allow for the closure of the ammonia storage tank in Haifa Bay, which is located in a populated area and poses a risk to nearby residents.
- We have approved NIS 800,000 in financial support for the Kiryat Yam municipality, for the establishment of 2,300 bicycle stands in 50 places.
- We have approved NIS 1 million in financial support for the Haifa municipality, for the implementation of a Low-Emission Zone (LEZ), where polluting diesel vehicles will be prohibited from entering. A draft bylaw has been published on the matter, and the LEZ plan has been distributed for public comments.
- Tenders have been published for the procurement of alternative fuel garbage trucks and buses, with the help of MoEP funding. 60 electric and natural gas-fueled public buses are expected to be running in Haifa and surrounding areas by early 2017.
- We are continuing enforcement activities at gas stations, which have been required to install vapor reducing systems as part of the national action plan. In the wake of these enforcement activities, vapor recovery systems have been installed in an additional four gas stations this quarter. In all, more than 90% of Haifa Bay gas stations have installed the systems, and the remainder are expected to install them in the coming quarter. In addition, we conducted surprise inspections at 28 gas stations.
Monitoring Air Quality
- The monitoring and sampling system in Haifa Bay has been reviewed by a professional delegation from the U.S.’s Environmental Protection Agency.
- We have moved two air quality monitoring stations – one to Kiryat Motzkin and a second near the ORL compound. We also added equipment that can measure diesel particulate matter (black carbon).
Rehabilitation of the Kishon River
- To date, we have removed some 108,000 m3 of contaminated soil from the bottom of the Kishon River. This soil is being treated, and will ultimately be used for infrastructure for a public metropolitan park in Haifa.
- Plans have been approved by Haifa’s District Planning and Building Committee for establishment of a Kishon River Park, to be built along the river banks.
Research and Surveys
- We have published Calls for Proposals for epidemiological and environmental studies. The MoEP will fund up to NIS 14 million for studies to examine links between air pollution and disease in Haifa Bay, as well as other issues. 28 research proposals that have been received are being evaluated. The studies that are selected for funding will be announced at the end of July 2016.