The Dan Region Wastewater Treatment Plant (Shafdan), which treats the sewage produced by the greater Gush Dan Area, has been pumping the process' residues into the ocean for years, despite the fact that it was supposed to stop doing so six years ago.
According to Yedioth Aharonoth, the company has been given repeated deferrals on its commitment to set up a new treatment facility, and now the Shafdan is asking the State to defer and even waiver payment of the special levies imposed on polluting companies.
The Shafdan's facility only partially treats the sewage: Part of the waste is treated while the rest of the sludge is pumped into the ocean.
For years, the Environmental Protection Ministry and Israel's various green groups have been demanding an alternative to this massively polluting process be found; but despite the Shafdan's pledge to show significant improvement by 2006, the matter has stalled.
The permits allowing the Shafdan to pump sewage into the ocean were given by the Environmental Protection Ministry – which attached a hefty levy to them.
The fees the ministry demands as part of the permit process are meant to cover both a levy imposed on polluting industries, as well as serve as an incentive for industries to seek alternative treatments.
The Shafdan, which is essentially a public organization, is exempt from paying such fees by proxy of a special order that expires at the end of the year.
Once the exemption ends, the Dan Region Wastewater Treatment Plant will be required to pay the State millions of shekels a year.
But the Shafdan is demanding an extension on its exemption, pending the completion of its new treatment facility.
"The past has taught us – and the Shafdan, for that matter – that the deadlines given to it are a mere recommendation. (The Shafdan) informs authorities of how things will be and the State just goes along with it," Maya Jacobs, director of the Zalul Environmental Association, said.
Arnon Giladi, the Chairman of Igudan – the municipal association by proxy of which the Shafdan operates, said: "The facility meant to treat the Shafdan's residue sludge will become operational by 2015.
"Igudan will continue to adhere to the project's schedule and so it's unfair to basically impose the fee on the residents of Gush Dan."
According to Giladi, Igudan is seeking to extend the exemption pending the end of the facility's construction, "So not to hinder its construction."
The Environmental Protection Ministry issued the following statement: "Over the past few years, we have been employing various tools to decrease the quantities of sewage being pumped into the ocean. The petitions by Zalul and the Shafdan will be reviewed accordingly."