Israel’s Housing Cabinet has approved a proposal to use the Environmental Services Co. (ESC) – a government company – to rehabilitate land belonging to Israel Military Industries (IMI). The proposal was put forth by Ministers Avi Gabbay and Moshe Kahlon, of the Ministries of Environmental Protection (MoEP) and Finance, respectively.
ESC will become the operational arm for land restoration, in coordination with the Israel Lands Authority and the Government Companies Authority. Ministers Gabbay and Kahlon proposed the idea in light of the urgent need to go ahead with treatment of contaminated soils that will soon be evacuated by IDF.
The contaminated lands are in the heart of high-demand areas, including Ramat Hasharon, Appollonia in Herzliya, Tzrifin, and Sde Dov. Among other things, treating the soil will make the property marketable, and help alleviate the housing crisis in Israel. Some 70,000 housing units could be built on these lands after they are restored.
Minister Gabbay: "The housing crisis is also an opportunity to improve the enviornment of the citizens who’ve been living near contaminated lands for many years. On this issue, we will go beyond the position of the regulator and will take steps to fix the problem."
ESC was chosen as the operational arm for the task of remediating the land because it has experience in the field. ESC is a government company under the auspices of the MoEP; thus the ministry will oversee the project. By virtue of being a government company, ESC is obligated to be transparent and to conduct itself fairly and without biases – obligations that are important to a project with such significant economic interests.
ESC will be asked to manage the tender process for the job, as well as surveys, samplings, and supervision and control. The cost is expected to reach billions of shekels.