Haifa Chemicals receives summons to hearing

Environmental Protection Ministry summons Haifa Chemicals to hearing, warns them not to continue using poisons.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Haifa ammonia tank
Haifa ammonia tank
Pinny Hamu - Environmental Protection Ministry

Israel's Environmental Protection Ministry has summoned Haifa Chemicals Ltd. to a hearing, warning the company to immediately discontinue use of poisonous chemicals.

"We will not allow the continued use of ammonia to endanger the Haifa Bay area," the ministry said.

The Haifa Chemicals factory will be required to show viable alternatives to ammonia use, as well as hand in a timetable detailing when the changes will be made.

Environmental Protection Minister Zeev Elkin (Likud) said, "We are determined to lower the level of dangerous materials Haifa area citizens are exposed to, and to permanently close the [ammonia] tank. We are doing everything possible to find an alternative as quickly as possible."

Deputy Environmental Protection Minister Yaron Mazuz (Likud) said, "We will not make peace with this danger to Haifa Bay area residents. As a resident of the area in question, I am extremely worried and I will work to ensure a solution will be found."

In the past few years, Israel has worked actively to find an alternative for the ammonia tanks in Haifa. In addition, the government has invested much effort and considerable resources in order to construct an ammonia plant in the south. However, this idea did not work out, as none of the companies were interested in taking on the project.

As a result, there is not yet a clear and operational solution which will allow Israel to remove the ammonia threat in Haifa, the Environmental Ministry has issued a warning according to section 15(d) of the Dangerous Chemicals Act of 1993, and has summoned the Haifa Chemicals factory to state its side of the matter, before the ministry shuts down all Haifa Bay area ammonia activities.

The Haifa Chemicals plant, founded 40 years ago, is operating legally, after having received a permit to use dangerous chemicals. The permit is scheduled to expire on January 10, 2017. The government had previously stated its intention to allow the plant to continue functioning until March 1, 2017 or until an ammonia plant could be constructed, whichever came first.

However, since the attempts to create an ammonia factory failed and the government also failed to find the an alternative solution for Haifa Chemicals, the permit will expire as originally planned on January 10, 2017. In order to for the plant to continue operating until March 1, 2017, the company will be required to suggest alternatives and present clear timetables for removing the ammonia threat.

The hearing will be held on December 20, in the Environmental Protection Ministry's Haifa District offices.