The charges against Bazan, which the company denies, were filed in connection with 15 alleged incidents in Haifa Bay in 2017

Bazan complex in Haifa.
Bazan complex in Haifa.Credit: Daniel Levtovsky

Israel Fisher Oct 2, 2022

Israel’s Environmental Protection Ministry indicted the Haifa-based Bazan Group along with senior company executives from the company on Thursday for alleged air pollution violations and other environmental offenses dating back to 2017 at its facilities. The company denies the allegations.

The indictment was filed a day after the company disclosed that it had shut down operations at another facility due to a malfunction and used safety flares there that increased pollution in the area. Thursday’s charges were filed in Haifa Magistrate’s Court some three months after similar charges against Bazan subsidiary Carmel Olefins.

In addition to the charges against Bazan, Thursday’s indictments were filed against Yariv Gertz, a Bazan vice president at the time of the alleged violations, and Udi Yaakov, the company’s operations director at the time.

Haifa Bay
The petrochemical industry in Haifa Bay is slated for relocation, but the time frame is not entirely clear.Credit: Rami Shllush

The ministry regularly monitors the emissions from the company’s smokestacks, and ministry inspectors who showed up unannounced found excessive emissions on 15 occasions at 10 company facilities in the course of 2017, according to the indictment.

In light of the large number of alleged violations and their severity – due to the plant’s location in a populated area – the ministry’s Haifa district office recommended opening a criminal investigation against the company and its executives. That culminated in Thursday’s indictments.

For its part, the company said the indictments are part of a “witch hunt” that the ministry has been waging against the country’s petrochemical industry in general and against Bazan in particular. The company said it has been praised in ministry documents for environmental standards that are higher than those in Europe.

In March of this year, the Israeli cabinet ordered the relocation of Haifa’s petrochemical industry within ten years, but the time frame provided for in the cabinet resolution is vague, and it’s not clear that the relocation of the refineries will take place within a decade.

Bazan has been convicted of environmental violations in four separate cases since 2015. The ministry and the courts have imposed 3.6 million shekels ($1 million) in financial sanctions and fines on Bazan and some 7.3 million shekels in fines on the Bazan Group as a whole. Thursday’s indictment is the fifth against the company in the past decade on environmental offenses.