08/10/2010 04:22

We adhere to higher standards than those mandated, company says.

Sea and waterways watchdog Zalul kicked off its newest campaign in Haifa on Monday morning with a gala ribboncutting ceremony. Its newest target: The 5 million cubic meters of waste water being dumped from the Telma factory in the Haifa Bay’s industrial zone into the sea every year.

In a satirical ceremony, new Zalul head Ezer Fischler cut a ribbon over the “Telma,” thereby inaugurating a “new stream” in Israel.

The situation regarding the waste from the Telma factory is complex. On the one hand, the factory has a permit from the Environmental Protection Ministry allowing it to dump specific amounts of waste into the sea. According to its permit, it can dump 10 tons of oils, two tons of ammonia, 4 tons of nitrogen and two tons of phosphorous into the sea a year.

Unilever, Telma’s Anglo- Dutch parent company, said on Monday that it exceeded all Israeli environmental standards.

Moreover, the factory committed in July 2009 to install a closed system to reduce its dumping by September 1, 2010. Telma makes mayonnaise, soups and spreads.

Zalul said that according to information it had obtained, the factory was not going to meet the deadline and would continue to dump tons of waste into the sea.

The ministry confirmed that the company had committed to reducing its wastewater emissions drastically, but said it had been given another year, until September 2011, to do so.

The ministry also said it was pursuing a criminal case against the company for polluting a Haifa beach in 2007 and that a ruling was expected in three weeks.

Zalul called on the company’s management to stop the dumping immediately. Zalul also called on the ministry to stop the dumping by revoking the factory’s permit and urged the Haifa Municipality to revoke the factory’s business license. The business license includes a list of environmental conditions with which the factory must comply.

“Dumping waste water with a permit is ‘kosher but stinks.’ It is incumbent upon a corporation as thriving and profitable as Unilever, which owns the Telma factory, and upon whose products many of Israel’s children grew up, not to hide behind administrative cover in order to continue dumping waste water into the sea at the expense of the public and the environment,” Fischler said in a statement.

Unilever denied any wrongdoing.

“Unilever Israel, as part of Unilever International, is committed and adheres to environmental standards among the highest in the world, far higher than Israeli standards.

Over the past 10 years, the company has invested vast resources and funds to incorporate technologies to reduce the environmental impact of its factories.

“The company’s factory in Haifa acts in accordance with all of the relevant laws and regulations regarding dumping into the sea and is under the constant and continuous supervision of the Environmental Protection Ministry.

“Moreover, since 2009, a multi-million-shekel project has been launched, initiated by the company in conjunction with the ministry, to reduce the flow by 90 percent.

“As part of our environmental obligations, we will continue to reduce the impact of our factory on the environment and we would even be happy to cooperate with any initiatives whose purpose was to promote issues related to environmental protection,” the company said.