07/07/2011 04:39

Environmental Protection Ministry announces significant improvement in water quality due to cease in wastewater flow from Haifa Chemicals.

The Kishon River Authority announced a significant improvement in water quality due to a cease in the wastewater flow from the nearby Haifa Chemicals plant at the beginning of May, a statement form the organization said on Tuesday afternoon.

After conducting tests recently in the river, officials found that concentrations of both nitrogen and ammonia – food sources for microalgae – were down considerably, and the water quality has nearly reached an environmentally acceptable level, the statement said.

A decreased level of chlorophyll concentration proved that the amounts of microalgae had also been reduced, though blooming is still occurring downstream, the authority said. Before the wastewater flow was halted, oxygen concentration levels in the river often fell to zero, but since the termination, there have no longer been drops to zero, according to the statement.

“For many long years, the Haifa Chemicals plant, one of many others, used the Kishon River and contributed to it substantive amounts of water and land pollution,” said Sharon Nissim, general director of the Kishon River Authority, in the statement.

“Plant sewage in the past had characteristically acidic properties that contained, among other things, mineral oil and heavy metals in significant measures, something which prevented the possibility of rehabilitating the river and its surroundings. Despite the improvement in Kishon factory wastewater quality in recent years, this isn’t enough and there is a need for additionally substantial improvement.”

The Kishon River Authority called on the Haifa Chemicals plant and other factories in the area to join the government in funding the land and river cleaning project, “to return the river to the public – to whom it belongs.”

To facilitate the cleaning process, the Environmental Protection Ministry announced on Wednesday that Minister Gilad Erdan will bring a three-year, NIS 220 million plan for further cleanup for approval to the cabinet meeting on Sunday. If approved, the total budget will be funded jointly by the national government, local authorities and private enterprises in the area, all of which have agreed to contribute money, except for Haifa Chemicals, according to a statement from the ministry.

Based on a series of samples taken, a committee of experts has determined that the soil pollution extends at least seven kilometers downstream and includes gas derivatives, as well as dangerous heavy metals like cadmium and arsenic, and polluting oil byproducts were found as far as 2.5 meters inside the soil, the ministry said.