Tel Aviv bus station declared a pollution hotspot

Environment minister’s move under Clean Air Act will force city hall to produce detailed plan to deal with diesel emissions within six months

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

Activists demonstrate in favor of closing the Central Bus Station in Tel Aviv on April 24, 2018. (Melanie Lidman/Times of Israel)
Activists demonstrate in favor of closing the Central Bus Station in Tel Aviv on April 24, 2018. (Melanie Lidman/Times of Israel)

Environmental Protection Minister Tamar Zandberg on Thursday declared the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station an air pollution hotspot, under the Clean Air Law.

This means that the Tel Aviv Municipality will have to present a detailed action plan to deal with the problem within six months.

Zandberg appealed to Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai and Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli in June to provide a plan to correct violations of environmental standards at the station on Tel Aviv’s Levinsky Street, which is used by diesel-powered buses and taxis.

With no plan forthcoming, she issued a draft declaration for public comment earlier this month.

Zandberg was pressured to act by the environmental advocacy organization Adam Teva V’Din, which petitioned the High Court of Justice to compel her and her ministry use their authority to uphold the Clean Air Law. It said this came after repeated requests for the ministry to act went unanswered.

High pollution levels harmful to public health and the environment have been reported in and around the station for decades.

Residents of south Tel Aviv have long called for the facility to be closed down, but Huldai, Michaeli and Zandberg have not been able agree on how this will happen.

Last year, Huldai and Michaeli announced that the contract with the company that operates the station would not be renewed next year and that four alternative, temporary bus terminals would be created elsewhere. Several weeks later, Huldai froze the plan.

Environmental Protection Ministry officials are currently pushing for a similar declaration to be made regarding the Atarot industrial zone in Jerusalem.

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