INSIDE THE MINISTRY OF THE ENVIRONMENT
Plans to Relocate Hazardous Waste Site
In what has been hailed as one of the most far-reaching environmental decisions ever taken in Israel, Minister of the Environment Yossi Sarid has announced his intention to close the hazardous waste site at Ramat Hovav. The decision was reached by Sarid at the completion of professional consultations which took place in the ministry over the past several months. In addition to doubts regarding its hydrological suitability, the site has been characterized by negligent management for years, resulting in the creation of serious environmental risks which make its continued operation difficult. Until a new site is selected and opened, a small incinerator will be installed at Ramat Hovav to burn the vast quantities of organic materials
(some 30,000) which have accumulated at the site. The incinerator is expected to dispose of about 3000 tons of organic materials per year.
Landfills Pose Risk to Groundwater and Soil
Leachates from garbage dumps pose a severe threat to groundwater and soil according to a report commissioned by the Environment Ministry and carried out by a team of Technion researchers.
The report, part of a larger study on the siting and effects of landfills, pinpoints the now shut-down Petah Tikva industrial dump as posing the highest risk, but landfills in Haifa, Hadera and in Hiriya (just south of Tel Aviv) are also cited.
The findings underline the urgent need to proceed with the planned closure of the hundreds of unauthorized garbage dumps throughout the country. The study reveals that leachates from the Petah Tikva dump contain high quantities of solids as well as substantial concentrations of chrome, zinc and nickel. While the site was closed five years ago, and is now undergoing rehabilitation, hazardous leachates still pose a threat.
Toxic Sludge Removed
Over 2,000 tons of illegally-dumped toxic sludge were recently removed from an abandoned quarry in Kiryat Ata by the Israel Oil Refineries, who financed the entire operation. The two-month cleanup removed sludge from the refineries which was dumped several years ago by a private contractor without the company’s knowledge. The sludge, which constituted a threat to groundwater resources in the area, was transported to the Ramat Hovav hazardous waste site in the Negev.
The cleanup was initiated at the request of Environment Minister Yossi Sarid.
Inauguration of Ramat Hovav Air Monitoring System
A sophisticated $500,000 air monitoring system was inaugurated by Environment Minister Sarid in early January at the Ramat Hovav chemical industrial complex and hazardous waste site. Plans for the establishment of a monitoring system for airborne pollutants in the Ramat Hovav area have been on the drawing board since 1986. The delay stems from difficulties with regard to the instruments, equipment and methods which are necessary for the monitoring of ambient airborne chemicals, especially bromine, as opposed to pollutants emitted as a result of fuel combustion.
The network is comprised of four stations and features, inter alia, a gas chromatograph mass spectrometer (GC-MS), steel canisters for monitoring volatile organic compound (VOC) concentrations and devices for the continuous monitoring of chlorine and bromine, the main VOCs which are unique to the area.
Personal Decree to Reading Power Plant
The Reading power plant in Tel Aviv has been served with a personal decree to control its pollutant emissions. The personal decree, signed by Minister of the Environment Yossi Sarid in mid-November, requires the Reading power plant to undertake several improvements, foremost of which is installation of electrostatic precipitators in its stacks to prevent particulate emissions. Installation of the filters should take about two years. In the interim, the plant is required to burn low-sulfur, low asphaltene fuel, on a continuous basis, in addition to improving its fuel combustion and monitoring and reporting systems.
The Reading plant has been notorious for the emission of acidic soot particles whose impact is felt in the residential sections of northern Tel Aviv. The particles form corrosive soot stains, which affect vehicles and buildings, and have a negative impact on the health of the population.
The Ministry of the Environment believes that enforcement of the personal decree will bring about a significant improvement in air quality in the area, by reducing the amount of SO2 and acidic soot particles emitted by the Reading power plant into the atmosphere of Tel Aviv.
New Park at Nahal Lachish
The Lachish River Park was inaugurated in October 1993, in the presence of Environment Minister Yossi Sarid and other dignitaries. Inauguration of the park is part of an ambitious plan to rehabilitate the river and to develop a park for recreation and tourism along its banks. The rehabilitation of the 3-kilometer river will serve as an aesthetic buffer separating Ashdod’s residential area from the heavy industrial zone of the city.
The project was initiated by the Ashdod-Yavne Regional Association for Environmental Protection in cooperation with the Ashdod Municipality, Israel Lands Authority, Jewish National Fund, Ministry of the Environment and the Israel Government Tourist Corporation.