Principles of Air Resources Management
Israel’s air quality policy is based on the following elements: prevention of air pollution through the integration of environmental considerations and physical planning; monitoring and intermittent control systems; legislation and enforcement including ambient and emission standards; improvement of fuel quality; research and international cooperation; individual treatment of pollution sources; and reduction of pollutant emissions from motor vehicles.
Wherever possible, the policy of the Ministry of the Environment has been to limit air pollution through rational physical planning. The Planning and Building Law, through its Environmental Impact Statement Regulations of 1982, serves an important function in air quality preservation, by restricting emissions of air pollutants from planned installations, as dictated by emission standards based on Best Available Technology (BAT). Preparation of an environmental impact statement (EIS) is required for any of the following types of projects, if significant environmental impact is expected: electric power plants, hazardous waste disposal sites, mines, quarries, and industrial plants located outside areas assigned for industrial activities whose siting, scope of activity or production processes are likely to cause a significant impact on the environment beyond the locality. Projects for which EISs have been prepared include the coal-fired electric power plants in Hadera and Ashkelon, the crude oil refineries in Haifa and Ashdod and the cement plants in Haifa, Beit Shemesh and Ramle.
Because of the lack of statutory regulations dealing with emission standards, personal decrees currently constitute one of the most important legal instruments in Israel for controlling air pollution from existing stationary sources. Personal decrees have been issued by the Minister of the Environment under the Abatement of Nuisances Law. They include specific stipulations to polluters on how to prevent air pollution, and have been issued to a number of older power plants, crude oil refineries, cement plants, the phosphate loading terminal in Ashdod Port, several chemical and petrochemical plants, two asphalt plants, a food production factory and a lead acid battery factory.
Personal decrees issued to power stations and other industrial plants in the Haifa and Ashdod areas require, inter alia, use of low-sulfur oil. In view of the success in reducing sulfur dioxide pollution in the Haifa and Ashdod areas, means are currently being sought to reduce the sulfur content in other large plants and industrial complexes which are situated in areas close to residential and other pollution-sensitive areas (such as those in Petah Tikvah) . A prominent example is an amendment to an existing personal decree to the Nesher Cement Company which was signed in October 1993. The amended decree requires the company to monitor SO2 emissions continuously, and to restrict emissions to 400 mg/m3. Efforts are now being made to obligate the oil refineries to use low-sulfur oil throughout the year until such time as scrubbers are installed. Similar environmental limits on air pollution are also introduced into the business licenses of problematic plants, under the Licensing of Businesses Law. As statutory regulations fixing emission standards come into force
(within one year), personal decrees should become obsolete.
Israel’s New Air Resources Management Program
Despite major investments in air pollution prevention in past years
(especially in the reduction of sulfur dioxide emissions), the state of air pollution in Israel remains unsatisfactory. In order to bring about significant improvements in air pollution abatement and prevention, a comprehensive new program for the management of air resources in Israel was completed by the Ministry of the Environment in June 1994. The landmark program includes the following elements: vehicular sources of air pollution; stationary sources of air pollution; fuel quality, energy and the environment; international treaties; legislation; and air monitoring, data and supervision.
The program delineates a two-stage working plan for each of the pollutants emitted by Israel’s major sources of air pollution, namely: gasoline and diesel vehicles, power plants (coal and oil- fired stations and gas turbines), oil refineries, industrial plants, incinerators, air conditioners and coolers and agricultural activities. For each pollutant, existing and proposed legislative instruments are presented along with an action plan for pollution abatement and prevention.
In the wake of the program, scales of priority are already being changed. Emphasis is being shifted from ambient standards to emission standards; increased attention is directed at technological solutions to pollutant emissions from stationary sources; concentration is focused on the reduction of vehicular emissions; new efforts are being invested in controlling photochemical smog; steps are being taken to establish a nationwide monitoring network and a national center for the collection, processing and analysis of the findings; and preparations for a comprehensive Clean Air Act designed to provide Israel with the statutory tools necessary to manage its air quality resources in the best manner possible, have been initiated.