Haifa Oil Refineries agrees to fund nearly half of polluted river’s cleanup project, after Environmental Protection Ministry says it’s responsible for 87% of contamination

Amir Ben-David, Yedioth Ahronoth
Published: 09.14.10, 16:24

Israel’s Haifa Oil Refineries Ltd (ORL) have, for the first time, assumed responsibility for their part in the sorry state of the Kishon River and will allocate millions of dollars to help clean it up.

The Kishon River, which runs near Haifa and flows into the Mediterranean Sea, is considered the most polluted river in Israel. It has been the subject of controversy regarding the struggle to improve the water quality.
According to the Yedioth Ahronoth daily, the ORL Board of Directors approved NIS 90 million (nearly $24 million) for the cleanup and rehabilitation of the river.

The Kishon cleanup project is expected to coast upwards of NIS 200 million ($53 million).

ORL is the first of many industrial facilities, which the Environmental Protection Ministry claims is responsible for the pollution, to allocate funds to that effect.

The Kishon River has been used as a waste dump site for facilities in its surrounding area for nearly 80 years.

The ministry has recently decided to divert the river. The land left behind, once dehydrated, will be dug and cleaned using a special biological process.

According to the Environmental Protection Ministry, ORL is responsible for 87% of the river’s oil and fuel contamination, while Haifa Chemicals is responsible for 79% of the water’s heavy metals contamination.

Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan demands the companies fund at least 60% of the river’s cleanup and rehabilitation.

ORL said that the decision to allocate funds for the water’s cleanup “does not constitute any acceptance of liability in the proceedings held in the matter.”

Haifa Chemicals has yet to agree to any funding and refused to comment on the matter.