05/15/2012 03:25
Court fines hog growers NIS 80,000 each for pumping raw sewage into fields.

Two pig farmers from the Western Galilee found themselves in the muck on Monday, when the Acre Magistrate’s Court fined them NIS 80,000 each for polluting local water supplies.

Brothers Jaris and Wadia Haddid from the Western Galilee Christian Arab village of Mi’ilya pleaded guilty to operating a business without a license, causing water pollution and dumping waste in the public domain.

The Haddid brothers were charged under two environmental laws: the Water Law and the Maintenance of Cleanliness Law.

In addition to fining the brothers, the court also ordered them to each sign a three-year pledge not to pollute the water, or face either a fine of NIS 160,000 or 500 days in prison.

According to the indictment, the Haddids kept around 500 pigs in an enclosure on the outskirts of Mi’ilya, near five potable water wells and a river.

Prosecutors for the Environmental Protection Ministry told the court that the pig farm had created serious environmental hazards.

At various times between 2002 and 2007, the indictment said, untreated waste from the pig farm flowed into uncovered dirt pools, giving rise to concerns that surface and underground water sources could be contaminated.

Once a month, until at least 2006, the Haddid brothers pumped sewage from the dirt pools, which spread into agricultural lands adjacent to the pig enclosures.

The brothers ignored a legal warning they received in 2002, which informed them they were violating the Water Law.

Instead they continued pumping sewage from the dirt pools, the indictment said.

When the authorities visited the Haddid’s pig pen in 2007, they found the brothers had still not installed a wastewater treatment facility.

Instead, the indictment said, the brothers had no license for the pig pen and had not engaged the regional sewage authorities to treat the waste.

Sludge from the dirt pools flowed into the surrounding fields and the area stank of sewage.

Even after the visit, the Haddids continued to ignore legal warnings and carried on running the pig sty without a license.

An expert witness from the Environmental Protection Ministry who testified in the trial estimated that pollution from the Haddids’ pig farm was the equivalent of that generated by 3,000 people.

The expert witness said the brothers had caused severe pollution to the Western Galilee water resources, and that sewage produced by the pig farm amounted to more than that produced by all Mi’ilya’s residents put together.

In passing sentence, Judge Ronit Bash said the brothers had committed severe offenses.

However, the judge noted that the pig farm had been established many years ago by the Haddids’ father and that the local authority permitted pigs to be farmed. The brothers had continued the family business, the court said.

The brothers had also committed to selling the pigs and removing the farm to solve the problem, the judge said.