The Ministry of Environmental Protection (MoEP) has canceled the poisons permit of the Magen Gilvun metals factory in Haifa Bay, forcing its closure for now. The ministry held a hearing against Magen Gilvun after it found the company was guilty of a number of environmental and business violations, including violating the terms of its poisons permit. In addition, the company was found to be operating the factory without an (air) emissions permit, as required by law. The violations resulted in air pollution, with black smoke clouds being emitted from the plant’s smokestacks, and in contamination of nearby water sources.
Samples taken from the site by the MoEP over the past few years showed evidence of emissions of soot particles into the air. For eight years, Magen Gilvun did not conduct emissions testing, despite the fact that one of the conditions of its business license was to conduct such a test every two years.
In addition, the company did not submit a plan for treatment of the gases released by the processes taking place there. And a test of the quality of wastewater being discharged found concentrations of zinc up to 2,750 times more than the permitted value. This wastewater was going into the municipal sewage system, and then being used to irrigate agricultural fields. Extreme concentrations of zinc could endanger public health.
Last year, the MoEP filed charges against the plant due to air pollution offenses and breach of terms of the business license. The MoEP ruled that continued operation of the plant endangers public health.
The factory owners were sent a warning, due to suspected contamination of water sources from industrial waste, and suspected air pollution as a result of black smoke clouds that were being emitted from the smokestacks.
Last month, MoEP teams found that plant managers do not have the required safety documents, nor is it equipped with proper protective equipment for emergency personnel. In addition, four tons of Zinc Chloride Anhydrous – a toxic salt that is not approved for use in the plant’s poisons permit. Therefore, it’s storage is prohibited.
The manager in charge of toxins at the factory told a ministry representative, "We do not recognize the conditions of the poisons permit."