ICL (TASE: ICL: NYSE: ICL) phosphate mining unit Rotem Amfert will pay NIS 115 million to rehabilitate Nahal Ashalim and to compensate the public for the environmental damage caused. This will be the biggest amount ever to be paid out in Israel for environmental damage through pollution.
The amount has been agreed as part of a class action suit submitted by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority and members of the public, and three years of arbitration, and the settlement will be subject to approval by the Beersheva District Court.
The pollution took place in 2017 after the collapse of the walls of an effluent reservoir at Rotem's plant in the Negev. There was a massive landslide of acidic effluent into the Nahal Ashalim creek over a period of 48 hours and which stretched for 20 kilometers.The effluent caused severe ecological damage to flora and fauna. Until June 2020, the creek remained closed to visitors.
In 2018, the South District Attorney's Office (civil), in cooperation with the Civil Enforcement Unit, on behalf of the Nature and Parks Authority in together with the Ministry of Environmental Protection, submitted a request for approval of a class action on behalf of all residents of the State of Israel.
Rotem Amfert CEO Ilan Barkay said, "This was a difficult and unfortunate event in the history of Rotem, for which we have taken full responsibility and have come to an understanding regarding significant and appropriate compensation. As soon as the incident occurred in 2017, the company acted quickly and unconditionally for the immediate rehabilitation of the area, and over the years we have done as much as we could to learn and draw lessons from it. The settlement agreement is a responsible step first and foremost towards the public, towards other stakeholders and certainly for us as a company."
Minister for Environmental Protection Tamar Zandberg said, "The agreement signed does environmental justice for the residents of the State of Israel and the environment. The Ministry for Environmental Protection, the Nature and Parks Authority and the Water Authority have been working for the past few years to promote the restoration of the area and to return the situation to its original state. The compensation money paid by the polluting company will be used to continue carrying out the restoration operations in the river, in the reserve and in their surroundings, alongside compensation for the ecological damage caused to the general public."
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on December 15, 2022.
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