Authority finds pollution caused by organic materials and explosives, detecting traces of the highly poisonous RDX compound, used in the production of explosives, at a level three times higher than legally allowed.
By Zafrir Rinat

Environmentalists are concerned that past military industrial activity near Be’er Tuvia has left ground and water in the area polluted. The Israel Water Authority recently identified high levels of pollution, along with explosive remains, at the Ram industrial park, north of Kiryat Malakhi. In past years, several sources of pollution emanating from IDF bases and defense-related plants have been detected.

Last week, the Water Authority notified government ministry officials and the Mekorot water utility that it had taken underground water samples from an area 650 meters west of the Ram industrial park, within the Be’er Tuvia regional council.
Israel Water Authority

The entrance to the former munitions plant near Be’er Tuvia.
Photo by: Nir Keidar

The authority found pollution caused by organic materials and explosives. Among other things, traces of the highly poisonous RDX compound were detected, at a level three times higher than legally allowed. RDX is used in the production of explosives.

Unacceptable levels of certain organic materials used in the preparation of military ammunition were also found. This is the first time pollutants have been found in the area.

The Water Authority says they took the sample from an area where drilling had been done to obtain irrigation water. Mekorot plans to conduct more drilling in the area to pump out salt water, and prevent it flowing into fresh water, but says it has pushed off the plans until more tests are conducted.

Based on an analysis of water flows in the area, officials at the Water Authority believe that the newly found polluted materials result from activity undertaken in the Ram industrial park.

Between the 1960s and 1980s, a munitions factory operated at the site. The factory specialized in recycling old forms of ammunition for use as explosives. Materials were imported from American armed forces then deployed in Vietnam.

The Water Authority has announced that it will work with the Environmental Protection Ministry and Mekorot to carry or more tests, and determine the precise levels of pollution. Officials suspect that other polluted areas will be found in the region.

During the past decade, a series of areas scarred by land and water pollution from military industrial activity and IDF bases have been identified around the country.

Sites in Tel Aviv, Ramat Hasharon, Herzliya and Ramle, among others, have been identified as polluted.