Haifa District Court judge rules there is no causal link between Kishon pollution, illness of Kishon divers, despite expert claims that ‘exposure to one molecule’ could lead to illness

Ahiya Raved
Published: 06.17.13

The Haifa District Court ruled Monday that there is no causal link between the pollution in the Kishon River and the illness of 70 former Navy commandos. A similar trial involving fishermen who worked in the river and became ill is still debated in court.

The divers’ suit was filed against the Haifa Municipality, Haifa Chemicals, oil refineries, and the Haifa Region Association of Towns, claiming they are responsible for the pollution and toxic waste in the river, including arsenic, nickel, chromium, cadmium, lead and benzene.

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Judge Adi Zarankin ruled that even though if was proven that these hazardous substances are in the Kishon’s waters, “none of the claimants proved that their alleged exposure to the Kishon waters caused their illnesses.”

He added that the plaintiffs did not present any evidence for the morbidity rate among soldiers exposed to the Kishon River in comparison to the general population or to others who were exposed to the hazardous substances in different circumstances.

The judge added that the claimants are not a homogenous group in terms of type of activity in the Kishon area, their exposure to its waters, the diseases they have and the IDF units in which they served.

The judges rejected the prosecution’s expert opinion claiming that it is sufficient for the claimants to be exposed “even to one molecule,” and claimed it is a very problematic theory: “There was no (scientific) research basis, and the opinion is not a recognized scientific school of thought.”

According to the judge, the expert bluntly ignored discussing the known risk factors of each of the plaintiffs’ diseases and intentionally avoided addressing the personal cases of each and every claimant. According to him, the defendants’ experts (factories and authorities) were more professional, and determined that the likelihood of exposure to the Kishon substances through dermal, respiratory or digestive contacts to cause the illnesses is very low.

The case of the navy commandos who dove in the Kishon River and got cancer was revealed some 13 years ago. The elite fighters used to dive in the most polluted river in Israel for 25 years. Authorities warned about the lethal concentrations of cancerous substances in the river for years.