At the end of a criminal investigation conducted by the Green Police of the Ministry of the Environment against Bezan (an oil refineries company) and the company's officers, it was decided to file an indictment against the company for causing abnormal air pollution and violating the company's emission permit.
The complex investigation involved collecting a lot of evidence and interrogating dozens of people involved.
This is not the first time that a Bezan company has been convicted in court. Since 2015 and as a result of criminal investigations carried out by the ministry and indictments it filed, a Bezan company has been convicted in court in four different cases of environmental offenses and this is the fifth indictment in the last decade that has been filed following cases conducted by the Ministry of Environmental Protection against Bezan company and its officers for environmental offenses.
In Zan Haifa. Indictment for the fifth time, photo: Herzi Shapira
The Ministry of Environmental Protection, as well as the court in the Ministry's cases, imposed financial sanctions and fines on Bezan in the amount of approximately NIS 3.6 million, and on the entire Bezan Group in the amount of approximately NIS 7.3 million.
The Minister of Environmental Protection, Tamar Zandberg: "There is no place for polluting industry in population concentrations in general and in the Haifa Bay in particular. The multitude of violations strengthens our position and the need to act on this matter as soon as possible. Until the removal of industry from the bay is completed, the Ministry of Environmental Protection will continue to operate, under supervision and enforcement, against the polluting factories in Haifa Bay to reduce air pollution in Israel.
The violations and anomalies of the Bezan company and other polluting factories prove that dealing with fossil fuels leads to harm to man and the environment. Israel must wean itself from polluting fuels and switch to green and renewable energies, and at the same time act to remove the polluting factories from population concentrations such as the Haifa Bay."
Criminal indictment for air pollution, photo: Herzi Shapira
As part of the indictment, in addition to the company, Yariv Gertz, who served as Bazan's vice president at the time of the violations, as well as Odi Yaakov, who served as Bazan's operations manager at the time of the violations, are accused.
Strong and unreasonable air pollution
Bezan is a public company engaged in, among other things, the refining of crude oil and intermediate products and the production and sale of fuel products at a plant located in Haifa Bay.
As part of the emission permit, requirements were set for the company that determine the emission values in each of the factory's chimneys, as well as requirements to perform periodic sampling and repeat sampling whenever deviations from the emitted values are detected.
In addition to the sampling requirements to which the company is obligated, the Ministry of Environmental Protection, through the inspectors of the Haifa district, carries out a close supervision procedure on the emission permit requirements and within this framework many surprise samplings of the company's chimneys are carried out.
According to the indictment, during the required periodic inspections performed by the company and the surprise samplings performed by the ministry during 2017, deviations from the permitted emission values were measured in 15 different cases, in ten different facilities of the company.
There is no place for polluting industry, photo: Oren Ben Hakon
These deviations constitute violations of the requirements set by the ministry for the plant as part of the emission permit.
These violations led to excess emissions of pollutants into the air and caused strong and unreasonable air pollution.
In addition to the deviations, the plant did not operate as required by the emission permit and in accordance with the Ministry's instructions, and did not conduct samplings imposed on it in accordance with the emission permit, including repeated sampling following an exception in a previous inspection.
Considering the number of violations and their severity - which is due, among other things, in light of the plant's location in the Haifa Bay, and in light of the effects and health risks arising from these deviations, which raise concerns of damage to public health and the environment, the Haifa District found that there is reason to recommend the opening of criminal enforcement proceedings against the company and its officers.
In March 2022, the government approved the recommendations of the committee of CEOs led by the Ministry of Environmental Protection together with the Prime Minister's Office for the evacuation of the petrochemical industry from Haifa Bay, and the promotion and development of the Haifa metropolis to improve the quality of life of the residents of the area. The ministry believes that there is no place for polluting industry in population concentrations in general and in Haifa Bay In particular, and the multitude of violations reinforces his position and the need to act on this matter as soon as possible.
Until the evacuation of industry from the bay is completed, the Ministry of Environmental Protection will continue to act, under supervision and enforcement, against the polluting factories in Haifa Bay to reduce air pollution in Israel.
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