Israel Environment Bulletin Autumn 1994-5755, Vol. 17, No. 3

NATIONAL AIR MONITERING SYSTEM

In order to bring about significant improvements in air quality in Israel, the Ministry of the Environment has launched a comprehensive new program on air resources management. The multi-faceted program, prepared by a Ministry of the Environment team, is based on the premise that air constitutes a finite resource which must be wisely managed and allocated. The program relates to several key components of air quality management including stationary sources of air pollution; vehicular sources of air pollution; fuel quality, energy and the environment; international conventions; and air monitoring, data and supervision.

In the wake of the program, Israel has begun to change its priorities. Emphasis is being shifted from ambient standards to emission standards, concentration is being focused on reducing vehicular emissions, and steps are being taken to establish a nationwide monitoring network.

Availability of nationwide data on air quality is a prerequisite for the formulation of a comprehensive national air quality management program. While 63 monitoring stations currently operate in Israel, nearly all are situated in the environs of power plants and major industrial areas. Monitoring in areas of Tel Aviv and Beersheba while inadequate or non-existent in the industrial monitoring of vehicular pollution in city centers is sporadic at best. A monitoring system which will cover all of Israel’s geographical areas is an imperative.

In order to fill the information gap, a ministerial steering committee was appointed to establish the basic framework for a national monitoring system. The resultant program calls for a hierarchy of three levels of monitoring and data analysis: individual stations, regional control centers and a national control center for data storage, analysis and display. Individual stations will be distributed throughout the country in accordance with three criteria: stations for monitoring pollutants from stationary sources (e.g. nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, ozone and particulates); roadside stations for monitoring carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides emitted from mobile sources; and stations for monitoring airborne chemical substances.

The monitoring stations and regional control centers will be established and operated by local environmental units and by associations of towns for environmental quality. New stations will be established in each region in accordance with defined scales of priority including: population density; presence of stationary sources of pollution such as industrial plants, quarries or roads; necessity for data for use in intermittent control systems; and presence of pollutants transported from more distant areas.

The program is conceived as a three-year project. First priority will be accorded to the Dan (Tel Aviv) metropolitan area where new stations will be established and existing stations upgraded. In all, some 50 additional stations are planned nationally. In addition to the regional systems currently in operation in Haifa, Hadera, Ashdod and Ashkelon, regional networks are planned for Nazareth, Tel Aviv, Ramle, Jerusalem (where the national control system will be situated) and the south.

In light of the complexity of the enterprise, a tender offer was published for a consultant to undertake the detailed planning of the national system, prepare the documentation for the tender for the components of the monitoring system, and supervise the implementation of the project. The winner of the tender offer, Metra-Watt Electrical Engineering Co., is completing the documentation necessary for the tender scheduled for publication in the beginning of 1995. Implementation of the plan in coming years will finally provide Israel with comprehensive data on the status of air quality in various parts of the country-data which will provide a firm basis for planning, policy making, research and operation of inspection and enforcement systems.