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Committee recommends shuttering Haifa’s petrochemical industry in a decade

Sue Surkes is The Times of Israel's environment reporter.

An inter-ministerial committee within the National Economic Council at the Prime Minister’s Office recommends closing down the petrochemical and fertilizer industries in Haifa Bay soon as possible, and in any case within the next decade.

The committee of ministries’ directors-general issues a draft government plan for the development of the bay for public comment, after which it will make a final recommendation to the government.

The committee, set up in October, recommends adopting either one of two plans for the development of residential, commercial, industrial and green space instead.

The draft report cites above-average incidences of cancer and other pollution related diseases in the Haifa Bay, among several reasons for its decision.

Environmental Protection Minister Gila Gamliel, who has pushed hard for the closure of the refineries, says, “The disposal of hazardous materials and cessation of pollutant emissions will lead to the opening of new businesses, the establishment of green industries and positive migration to the area.”

The Bazan oil refinery, owned by Israel Chemicals Ltd, imports crude oil to make a range of refined products for industry, transport and agriculture, 40 percent of which are then exported. Subsidiaries make products ranging from bitumen for road surfaces to waxes, oils, lubricants and polymers.

View of chimneys from a refinery in Haifa Bay (Photo credit: Shay Levy/Flash90)
View of chimneys from a refinery in Haifa Bay. (Shay Levy/Flash90)
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