The Deputy Minister of Health and the professional echelon at the Ministry of Health warn against mining at Sede Barir, which could endanger public health
The professional echelon at the Ministry of Health and the Deputy Minister of Health Yakov Litzman warn against mining at Sede Barir, and warn the National Planning and Building Council that approval of the mining plan at Sede Barir would endanger the health of residents living in the area and would increase morbidity and mortality
The Ministry of Health accused planning and building committees of continuing to advance infrastructure development plans of huge proportions without adequately considering health impact assessments, and even of excluding Ministry of Health representatives from professional debate at relevant forums.
A meeting of the National Planning and Building Council is expected to take place tomorrow, in which a decision is liable to be made regarding the development of a phosphate mine at Sede Barir. According to the professional echelon at the Ministry of Health, this involves a real health risk to the population in the region.
Sede Barir is a clear example of the significance of failing to carry out a health impact assessment. Planning processes for phosphate mines in Israel were commenced over 15 years ago, but only in recent years has the stance of the Ministry of Health been sought, and this only in respect of Sede Barir. The Ministry of Health has determined that phosphate mining should be prohibited in the Negev, after having received opinions from top experts in Israel, within and outside of the Ministry of Health, the vast majority of which determined that the health risk to residents of the area is unreasonable and is tangible.
Prof. Itamar Grotto, head of Public Health Services in the Ministry of Health, pointed out that “An independent international expert who also assessed the project wrote in his opinion that from the Ministry of Environmental Protection’s data, particulate air pollution is expected to increase in nearby towns, meaning a risk for increased mortality and morbidity among the residents.”
Ministry of Health experts today (Monday) clarified ahead of tomorrow’s debate at the National Planning and Building Council that particulate air pollution causes morbidity and mortality from lung disease, including aggravation of asthma in children, cardiovascular disease and lung cancer. The expected increased mortality in the region deviates from the most lenient position in the Western world for incremental risk in such national projects.
Deputy Minister of Health MK Yakov Litzman warned council members that they must show responsibility for public health and that they must refrain from approving mining and Sede Barir. “Ministry of Health representatives will tomorrow vigorously oppose the plan as it has been submitted, in order to protect the health of all the residents of the region. The State of Israel cannot ignore professional positions regarding dangers to public health,” said the Deputy Minister.