U.S. Water News Online
JERUSALEM -- Environmental groups have criticized Israel
for its plan to begin dumping treated wastewater from factories into
the Mediterranean Sea.
For decades, factories have been dumping untreated effluents into
the Kishon River, which empties into the Mediterranean. But the
Environment Ministry has placed a ban on dumping effluents into the
As part of a master plan to clean up the polluted river, a pipe is
to be built that will bypass the river and allow the factories to
dump wastewater containing certain types of salts directly to the
The ministry is currently conducting environmental impact surveys
to determine the length of the pipe and a best location to minimize
any potential harm to the sea.
``Only a sea pipe will help us achieve our goal: an end to the
pollution of the Kishon River,'' Environment Minister Tzahi Hanegbi
said in a release.
Officials at the ministry believe that ``releasing the effluent
into the depths of the sea will not damage the quality of the sea
water,'' the statement said.
But environmental groups sharply criticized the decision, saying
the ministry had not done enough research to determine possible harm
to sea flora and fauna.
In addition, factories that will be discharging the treated
wastewater through the pipe have previously violated environmental
controls on air pollution, the groups said.
``There are organic wastes, poisons, and metals in that water''
put out by the factories, said a spokeswoman for Israel's branch of
the environmental group Greenpeace, Sharon Shemesh-Rosenbaum. ``We
don't trust the factories to let only salts flow through the pipe
into the sea.''
About 700,000 cubic feet of untreated water were being dumped into
the river every day before the ban took effect, Shemesh-Rosenbaum
Currently, all wastewater must be treated before it is discharged
into the river.
The chairman of The Society for the Protection of Nature in
Israel, Michael Lifshitz, urged the ministry to force the factories
to treat all their wastewater, which he said, even after treatment,
``is not clean enough to be dumped into the environment, neither the
river nor the sea.''
The push to clean up the Kishon began in 2000 when it was revealed
that 40 out of 750 divers of an elite navy unit had contracted cancer
after carrying out diving exercises in the river.
The Kishon River and Haifa Bay are lined with chemical factories,
which have been dumping their waste into the waterway for decades.
Greenpeace also criticized Israel for allowing the heavy pollution
of the Yarkon River in Tel Aviv, which also flows into the
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