of the world: Israel tops
environment polluters’ chart
Posted By Philippe Khan
October 27, 2007
In a recent report by an environmental group, Israel has been named the biggest polluter in the Eastern Mediterranean with 140 tons of heavy metals dumped into the sea every year. But this is not the surprising news; as a matter of fact all the dumped waste is authorized by the government, therefore legal.
The report was issued by Zalul, a non-profit organization for the environment and conservation of the Red Sea. The organization was founded four years ago by prominent businesspeople, environmentalists, academics and public officials.
After winning its battle against fish cages that destroy the coral reefs of the Red Sea, Zalul is currently focusing on the wastewater permissions that are granted by the Israeli government.
According to the report, a government committee authorizes the discharge of 140 tons of heavy metals, 130 tons of pesticides, 5 tons of arsenic, 1,300 tons of ammonia and a ton of cyanide every year.
More than 100 permits for discharging water waste into the sea are authorized by the government, the State of the Sea Report for 2007 stated.
"The state of Israel's coastal waters is appalling," it said.
The Zalul report follows a previous one issued by the United Nations, which ranked Tel Aviv among the 10 most polluted places in the Mediterranean.
With problems such as coastal overdevelopment, over fishing and pollution affecting the 21 countries that share the Mediterranean, Israel is reluctant to confront its increasing pollution problems.
"There is a big problem in Israel confronting industries and municipalities and the government doesn't want to invest money," Yariv Abramovich, Zalul's managing director, told Reuters.
Meanwhile, the Environmental Protection Ministry defends the Israeli violations by claiming that its beaches are among the cleanest in the world.
According to Reuters, Israeli Minister of Environmental Protection, Gideon Ezra, says that his ministry lacks the manpower to enforce environmental regulations properly. "To make a real change I need a strong legal department in my office that can investigate and press charges against criminals who pollute”.
It seems that the Israeli government is unable to handle the pollution problem properly as its proposal to clean up the polluted Kishon River in Northern Israel includes building a pipeline that would take the waste directly into the sea.
Criticizing the proposal, Sagit Rogenstein, Zalul's national projects director, said: “We've been working with the ministry and bringing experts from abroad to prove there are ways of further reducing pollution from factories and the worst idea is to divert it to the sea.”