Sixty Percent of Israeli Factories Violate Air Standards

JERUSALEM, Israel, April 18, 2005 (ENS) - Sixty percent of Israeli factories are in violation of national air quality standards, according to a report issued today by the Ministry of the Environment. The Southern region had the greatest number of industrial plants checked and the greatest number exceeding pollution standards.

In 2004, the ministry carried out surprise spot checks, including stack sampling, in industrial plants throughout the country. Out of 156 spot checks conducted in 34 industrial plants, 21 plants - about 60 percent - were found to violate air quality standards.


Israeli Environment Minister Shalom Simhon pledges to crack down on violaters. (Photo by Sasson Tiram courtesy Israeli Environment Ministry)
Environment Minister Shalom Simhon said after the report was published that enforcement measures, including warnings, hearings were initiated against all of the factories found to exceed pollution emission standards. In some cases, criminal investigations are underway and criminal charges might result.

"Some of the factories undertook the necessary action to prevent additional violations when they were confronted with the results," the ministry said.

Simhon said that "despite the budgetary constraints of the Ministry of the Environment, spot checks will continue in other plants throughout the country."

In the Southern region, 13 plants were checked, of which nine exceeded the standards.

In the Northern region both plants checked were in violation of the air quality standards.

In the Haifa region, eight plants were checked, and four, including Haifa Chemicals, were found to be in violation.


Smoke carrying air pollutants emerges from an Israeli factory stack. (Photo by Metvei Feldman courtesy Air Quality Division)
In the Tel Aviv region, five plants were checked, and two were found to exceed the standards.

In the Central region, only one plant was checked and it was not in violation of the standards.

In the Jerusalem region, five plants received the surprise spot checks, and four were found to be in violation, including Bikur Holim Hospital in Jerusalem.

Pollutants found to exceed the standards included particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and volatile organic compounds such as xylene, hexane, and ethylene oxide.

Total volatile organic compounds were found at higher levels than standards allow and so were inorganic gaseous pollutants such as hydrogen chloride, chlorine, hydrogen sulfide, and dioxins.

Shuli Nezer, director of the Air Quality Division, said spot checks, which include stack sampling and analysis, are part of enforcement efforts of the ministry to reduce pollutant emissions from industrial plants. Last year was the fifth year that the checks were conducted by the ministry.

Nezer pointed out that continued exposure to these air pollutants may damage both health and the environment, leading to respiratory symptoms and increased frequency of circulatory and cardiac diseases.