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


Yosef Tamir Receives International Prize

Mr. Yosef Tamir, journalist, diplomat, and former Knesset member, now serving as chairman of Life and the Environment, the umbrella organization for non-governmental environmental organizations in Israel, has stood at the forefront of the environmental movement since its very inception. In tribute to his outstanding achievements, Mr. Tamir was one of 33 environmentalists to be awarded UNEP’s 1994 Global 500 Roll of Honor for Environmental Achievement.

Mr. Tamir’s achievements were aptly summarized by UNEP as follows: "As a senior statesman of the environmental movement, Mr. Tamir’s contributions and role in Israeli environmentalism is important both historically and in the context of the present efforts being made in the environmental movement."

Knesset Speaker Prize to EcoNet Founders

Shirley and Hershell Benyamin, founders of EcoNet, were awarded the 1994 Knesset Speaker Prize for Quality of Life for their outstanding activities on behalf of the environment. This was the first time the prestigious prize has been awarded to an environmental grassroots organization, which deals with such problems as pesticides, radiation, and nuclear energy. EcoNet, established in 1990, is run by the couple out of their home. The organization has many achievements to its credit, including support for the establishment of environmental NGOs and setting up of an environmental library and a phone and fax hotline.

Supreme Court Mediates Plan for Sewage Treatment

In the wake of a petition to the High Court of Justice by the Israel Union for Environmental Defense (UED), the court has called upon the municipalities of Ramle and Lod, together with the Ayalon Regional Council, to prepare comprehensive sewage treatment plans, budgets, and a detailed work schedule for building the proper facilities. In its petition, the UED charged that the sewage discharged by Lod and Ramle with a population of some 50,000 each-undergoes inadequate treatment, in violation of health regulations which establish the basic treatment level for effluents at the exit point of the treatment plant.

Although the court ruled neither in favor of the UED nor the four defendants in the case, it did affirm the need for solving the problem of untreated sewage according to a set timetable and it did uphold the requirement to meet treatment standards at the point of sewage outflow.

Citrus Wastes for Energy Generation

The Gat citrus-processing company in Givat Haim, a kibbutz near Hadera, has opened a facility for treating citrus wastes that not only prevents groundwater contamination and odors but produces gas to help run the factory.

The factory, which makes frozen juices and other products, processes some 200,000 tons of citrus fruit each year. Until recently, the factory’s liquid wastes were treated in a large oxidation pond. To solve the problem of disposal, the plant installed a $1.5 million treatment system that uses anaerobic bacteria to break the organic wastes into methane gas. Another $500,000 were then invested in establishing a half a megawatt turbine, to be activated by the gas emitted during the treatment process.

No Smoking Ban Expanded

The Minister of Health has signed an amendment to Israel’s 1983 anti- smoking law that restricts smoking in the workplace, in the wake of growing evidence of the risks associated with passive smoking. The amendment, which went into effect for a one-year period in October 1994, adds the term "all workplaces" to the original law which lists 14 public places where smoking is already prohibited including taxis, cinemas, sport halls, medical clinics and elevators.

Under the new regulations, employers must require smokers to go outdoors for cigarette breaks or must set up closed but well-ventilated "smoking rooms."

Oil Spill Cleanup

A 1.3 million liter oil spill at the Ramat Hovav industrial zone is being cleaned up by oil-eating bacteria, in a half a million dollar project conducted by Biotech the Environmental Quality Company. The Herzliya company won the tender issued by the Israel Electric Corporation for clean up of the area after the Environment Ministry demanded that the oil be removed to prevent further contamination. The oil leaked from a gas turbine belonging to the Israel Electric Corporation in February 1994 when the back-up system’s spigots failed to close properly. The back-up system uses oil during periods when the gas supply is replenished.

Using American produced bacteria and technology, the firm has already cleaned up 17,000 cubic meter of contaminated earth from an 8,000 cubic meter area by digging it up and placing it in a huge "bioreactor" along with the bacteria.

Greening of Kibbutzim

Environmental awareness among members of of Israel’s kibbutzim is on the rise as a result of the operation of a "Green Room" in the Efal Instruction Center of the kibbutz movement. The "Green Room" operates an information network among Israel’s kibbutzim and encourages environmental activity. It conducts monthly study days on environmental subjects, runs an environmental library, and publishes a bimonthly newsletter. The room is located in the Instruction Center of the kibbutz movement’s Seminar Center in Efal.

Journal on Animal Welfare

ProAnimal, Israel’s first and only English-language journal on animal welfare and lights, is an independent publication which provides a forum for groups and organizations working for animal protection in Israel. It aims to increase awareness of animal needs and rights and to provide information on animal issues in Israel and abroad. The journal, a biennial publication, contains information about animal activities in Israel, including reports from shelters and other animal welfare groups, articles about Judaism and animal rights, stories on vegetarianism, an international calendar of events, updates on international animal protection campaigns and a section on new books and journals.

To order ProAnimal, please write to ProAnimal, POB 2039, Rehovot 76120, Israel. The journal is non-profit with all revenues going toward printing costs and postage.