Bazan oil refinery group and subsidiaries fined almost $1 million for pollution

Haifa Magistrate’s Court decision to fine Carmel Olefins $275,000 comes less than two weeks after Environmental Protection Ministry gave it a $5 million fine

Sue Surkes is The Times of Israel's environment reporter

Carmel Olefins in the Haifa Bay, northern Israel, in an undated photo. (Ilan Melster)
Carmel Olefins in the Haifa Bay, northern Israel, in an undated photo. (Ilan Melster)

A court in northern Israel convicted and fined the Bazan Group oil refinery conglomerate and two of its subsidiaries NIS 3.5 million ($945,000) on Sunday for violating permits on polluting emissions and hazardous materials use.

The Environmental Protection Ministry filed criminal charges against Bazan in 2022.

Bazan was found guilty of air pollution and violations of an emissions permit and was fined NIS 2 million ($540,000). It underwrote a NIS 1,356,000 ($365,000) commitment not to repeat the crimes within the next three years.

Subsidiary Gadiv Petrochemical Industries, which manufactures benzene (believed to cause cancer), was fined NIS 500,000 ($135,000) for polluting the sea and violating a hazardous materials permit. It paid NIS 1 million ($270,000) to underwrite a guarantee not to commit the same crime for another three years. Yariv Gertz, a senior company official when the crimes were committed, was fined NIS 100,000 ($27,000) and paid the same sum for his three-year guarantee.

The sums were reached as part of a plea bargain.

The court also fined another Bazan subsidiary, petrochemical manufacturer Carmel Olefins, NIS 1,018,500 ($275,000) for improper gas flaring. Flares burn off excess gases that cannot be removed in any other way.

The judgment by the Haifa Magistrate’s Court came 12 days after the Environmental Protection Ministry slapped an NIS 18.7 million (just over $5 million) fine on Carmel Olefins for breaching its emissions permit.

View of the oil refineries in Haifa Bay, May 5, 2017. (Yaniv Nadav/Flash90/File)

The Bazan petrochemical conglomerate is located in the densely populated Haifa Bay in northern Israel.

Bazan’s refinery imports crude oil to make refined products (distillates) for industry, transport and agriculture. Subsidiaries make products ranging from bitumen for road surfaces to waxes, oils, lubricants and polymers.

Bazan and its subsidiaries have been fined multiple times for polluting the environment.

In March 2022, the cabinet voted to shut down Bazan within a decade to allow for the rehabilitation of the polluted Haifa Bay and its transformation into a clean, green residential and business hub.

Bazan is fighting that move.

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