The Ministry of Environmental Protection has expressed satisfaction with the results of the national plan for reducing air pollution in Haifa Bay. The ministry's figures show that emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) by factories fell 56% in 2015-2018, compared with a 48% target set at the outset of the plan.
VOCs are carcinogens and suspected carcinogens. According to the Ministry of Environmental Protection, VOC emissions fell by 1,100 tons in 2018 alone.
Despite the steep fall in VOC emissions, the delay in the deployment of the natural gas distribution network in Haifa Bay detracted from the effort to substantially reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide and particles. When the national plan was written, professionals in the Ministry of Environmental Protection set a 75% reduction target for sulfur dioxide emissions, but the actual reduction was only 10%. The figures also show that emissions of particles went down by 13%, compared with a 50% reduction target. Emissions of nitrogen oxide fell 26% in the past four years, compared with a 12% target.
Ministry of Environmental Protection senior deputy director general Shuli Nezer said that because of delays in connecting small and medium-sized enterprises in the Haifa Bay area to natural gas, it had been decided to postpone meeting the reduction targets for these pollutants to 2020.
Ministry of Environmental Protection professionals attributed the drop in pollutant emissions in Haifa Bay to the installation of 41 facilities and special equipment for reducing emissions at 11 large enterprises over the past four years. Among these enterprises were Oil Refineries, Dor Chemicals, Gadiv Petrochemical Industries, and Shemen Industries. Nezer said that in addition to installing these facilities, the Ministry of Environmental Protection had significantly stepped up its supervision of plants, including unscheduled audits, regular air quality monitoring in the area, etc.
As a result of the enforcement measures, 42 warnings were issued to 17 plants in 2015-2018. 37 hearings were held for 16 plants, and six plants were fined almost NIS 10 million for deviating from the standards.
Ministry of Environmental Protection head of industrial air quality Guy Last told "Globes" that Oil Refineries was still the leading emitter of VOCs in Haifa Bay, while emissions by Carmel Olefins and Gadiv had fallen substantially.
Nezer added, "There are industries that have not yet realized the importance of this issue. We see them as being like a car about to collide with a wall. We see large industries in Haifa Bay that do not yet operate methodically in environmental matters, are not yet acting transparently, and still regard environmental affairs as a low priority."
A report for Haifa Bay published today by the Ministry of Environmental Affairs states that pollution in from vehicles dropped significantly over the past year. According to the report, concentrations of soot in lower Haifa fell 20%, while the use of electric buses and garbage trucks increased.
No response from Oil Refineries was available.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on June 10, 2019
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