The Ministry of Environmental Protection (MoEP) has published its first quarterly review of the National Plan to Reduce Air Pollution and Environmental Risks in Haifa Bay. The MoEP and other governmental bodies began implementing the plan soon after it was approved in Sept. 2015, and there are already results from the field. In the past year, among other environmental gains, emissions of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) fell by 11%, as a result of stricter MoEP rules and regulations. The MoEP is obligated to publish a quarterly review in accordance with the plan.

Environmental Protection Minister Avi Gabbay and Director General Yisrael Dancziger presented the MoEP’s first quarterly report today, Jan. 5, 2016. The report summarizes environmental successes that have been achieved to date in Haifa Bay, as a result of the National Plan to Reduce Air Pollution and Environmental Risks. As this is the first report, it also reviews some actions taken before implementation began in Sept. 2015.

The plan is a NIS 330 million, five-year program aimed at:

  1. Improving air quality in and around Haifa Bay
  2. Increasing supervsion and enforcement
  3. Reducing environmental risks to the population
  4. Increasing monitoring and sampling of air quality
  5. Conducting health-related research
  6. Increasing public accessibility to data

Achievements to date include:

  1. 11% reduction in Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) emissions from 2014-2015; 65% reduction since 2009.
  2. 77% of large Haifa Bay factories have received new, stricter instructions regarding their obligation to reduce emissions; enforcement proceedings have begun against factories who are not in compliance with rules.
  3. 2 mobile air quality monitoring stations have been placed in Haifa Bay (in addition to the 25 air monitoring stations already there).
  4. The number of locations where air is sampled every two weeks has been doubled, from 4 to 8.
  5. Creation of Israel’s first ever low-emission zone, from which heavy trucks will be barred during rush hour.
  6. Carmel Tunnel fares for light trucks are being subsidized, so that fewer trucks will pollute main roads.
  7. 80,000 m3 of contaminated soil have been removed from the Kishon River and treated.

Read all the environmental achievements in the full Haifa Bay quarterly review.

Environmental Protection Minister Avi Gabbay: “Five months since the launch of the program and we already have results on the ground. We still have quite a lot of work to do – we will continue to work diligently to reduce air pollution in and around Haifa Bay, from both industry and transportation. We will increase supervision and enforcement. We’ll increase monitoring and sampling of air quality, and we will ensure that the quality of life for residents of and near Haifa will improve dramatically.”

MoEP Director General Yisrael Dancziger: “MoEP activities in the field are life-saving operations, and all of our people are working together around the clock in order to protect the health of Haifa Bay residents and to reduce air pollution. The revolution to reduce pollution in cities is one of the significant revolutions being led by the MoEP, together with a move to clean transportation, healthy and energy efficient housing, growth of the periphery, and increased enforcement. The citizens will feel results in Haifa and its surroundings, and soon, in other Israeli cities as well.”

Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav: “The environmental protection and health of Haifa residents is the primary and most important issue, and that is what will guide the management of Haifa in upcoming years. Alongside the development and the economic significance of industry in our region, I intend to do whatever is in my authority to work toward a complete halt to any expansion of the refining industry, of production and storage of chemicals, fuels, and other hazardous and volatile materials. Because we do not yet undertstand the link between morbidity and industry, we will continue to adopt a policy of: “if there a doubt, there is no doubt!” Today is an historical day, because for the first time in the history of Israel, a government representative is taking upon himself not only the authority, but also the responsibility, of the State to correct the distortions – and even the crimes committed in Haifa Bay. I thank Minister Avi Gabbay, who, along with me, determined that Haifa Bay will no longer be the backyard of the State of Israel, and will no longer be the basket in which we throw polluting industries.”