INSIDE THE MINISTRY OF THE ENVIRONMENT
Court Injunction in Water Pollution Case
A precedent-setting court injunction on water pollution caused by run-off from the Modi’in landfill was granted in January, in compliance with a Ministry of the Environment request. The injunction obliges the Ayalon Association of Towns, the Modi’in Regional Council, and the landfill operators to meet Environment Ministry requirements with regard to sanitary landfills and to reduce the amount of leachates from the landfill.
The Modi’in landfill receives 600 tons of garbage a day from some 40 towns, including Ramle, Lod and Yehud. Problems first appeared following winter rains which caused leachates to run off and accumulate in vast quantities, threatening groundwater quality. The preliminary order calls for the sealing of part of the landfill, for the preparation of a long-term plan for pollution prevention and for treatment of the accumulated leachate.
The case is currently being deliberated in court. Thus far, only some of the requirements set in the injunction have been met.
New Radioactivity Monitoring System Inaugurated
A new radioactivity monitoring system was inaugurated in early March in a ceremony at the Ministry of the Environment’s Environmental Research Center at Tel Aviv University. The new monitoring system is consistent with Environment Minister Yossi Sarid’s oft-repeated policy which stresses the public’s right to know the state of its environment.
The system is based on four monitoring stations in Haifa Bay, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Ramat Hovav, south of Beer Sheva in the Negev, all connected by communication equipment to the Tel Aviv center. Based on real-time data, it enables national alert in case of a sudden rise in the background level of environmental radiation.
Environment Minister Sarid has promised to order a monitoring station for the nuclear research center in Dimona to calm public fears about any possible environmental hazards from the nuclear facility there.
Knesset Panel Approves Funding for Animal Welfare
Animal welfare groups praised the March decision of the Knesset finance committee to authorize a 400,000 shekel budget for animal care. This is the first time that government money has been allocated for animal welfare. The budget will be handled by the Environment Ministry, which will consult with the groups on how to use the money. There are some 20 registered charities dealing with animals in the country. The money is intended for animal shelters and clinics for stray or abandoned animals, vaccination and neutering programs and educating the public in the need for humane treatment of animals.
Import of Private Diesel Cars to be Allowed
A committee of experts has recommended that the import of private diesel cars into Israel will be allowed, beginning with 1994 models. Currently, only trucks, buses and taxis are permitted to have diesel engines. The Environment Ministry has stipulated that its agreement is conditional on the following: a guarantee of an adequate and constant supply of low-sulfur diesel fuel (0.3% instead of 0.4%) which will accord with current and future EC standards relating to sulfur content, cetane number, viscosity and density; imported diesel cars will be equipped with all new technologies and will comply with current and future European emission standards; roadside supervision over vehicles emitting black smoke will be strengthened and strict regulations on vehicle emissions will be promulgated, which will include legal and administrative means for law enforcement.
Lead Levels to be Investigated
A national survey of lead levels in Israel’s population will soon be conducted by physicians of Netanya’s Laniado Hospital, with technical assistance from the World Health Organization. The survey was initiated by the hospital along with the Ministries of Health and Environment. During the study, blood samples will be taken and lead levels in some representative homes will be tested. In a 1980 survey, concentrations of 12 to 13 micrograms/deciliter of lead were found in children’s blood in the Haifa area.
On Behalf of a Reading Shut-Down
Residents of northern Tel Aviv have long called upon the Israel Electric Corporation to shut down operation of the Reading power plant due to environmental nuisances including soot, health problems and dirt. The Reading site includes two generating units, Reading B, with an installed capacity of 50 megawatts in each of its two units and Reading D, with an installed capacity of 214 megawatts in each of its units. According to the Tel Aviv municipality, 40% of the city’s air pollution is caused by the power station, which supplies only 8-10% of the country’s electricity production. The Reading B production unit, constructed soon after the establishment of the State of Israel, contributes a mere one percent of electricity and a lion’s share of the pollution. The Ministry of the Environment’s Environmental Research Institute will carry out studies to determine the contribution of the power plant to air pollution in the city.
In an effort to ameliorate conditions until the power plant is shut down, the Minister of the Environment is in the final stages of preparing a personal decree for the prevention of air pollution from the Reading Power Plant to ensure that the proper means are taken for the prevention of unreasonable pollution from the station, including the use of low sulfur, low asphaltene fuel, restrictions on soot blowing from the stacks and requirements to install a filter in the stacks and measuring and monitoring equipment.
First Environmental Unit in Arabic Sector
Minister of the Environment Yossi Sarid has inaugurated Israel’s first environmental unit in the Arabic sector, serving six local authorities in the Central Galilee, a region populated by 50,000 people. The new unit will be based in Sakhnin and will be followed by another seven units in the Arabic sector over the next year and a half. Twenty-two environmental units exist in the Jewish sector.