Outgoing Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan
is pushing for a government exemption of the pollution fees paid by the Shafdan Corporation,
Yedioth Ahronoth reported.
The Dan Region Wastewater Treatment Plant (Shafdan), which treats the sewage produced by the greater Gush Dan Area, is required to pay a levy for pumping sewage to Mediterranean's waters.
The fees the Shafdan was asked to pay are similar to those imposed on any facility whose operations involve pumping sewage into the sea. However, since the facility's operations are essentially paid for by the residents of the greater Tel Aviv area, via their city taxes – it received a special exemption.
But the government now wants the Shafdan to foot the bill – in the amount of NIS 18 million (roughly $4.9 million).
According to the report, Erdan – who has yet to be named as a candidate to any ministry in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's
new government – is trying to push the exception before he leaves office.
The Shadan was made to build a special water reclamation facility to manage the sludge
created by the process, but the project has been repeatedly deferred and the plant has no operational date at this time.
The Dan Region Wastewater Treatment Plant has repeatedly claimed that if it was made to pay the fee, it would have no choice but to increase its rate or suspend future infrastructure plans.
Sludge treatment facility
environmental group said the Erdan has already essentially extended the Shafdan's exemption: "This was an underhanded act that has rendered the ministry's work in the matter, over the years, null and void. The next minister should not be made to deal with this post- factum," the group said.
According to the report, the professional teams in the Environmental Protection Ministry also oppose the move, saying that the Safdan "does not deserve another break" after it has repeatedly failed to meet the ministry's guidelines.
Erdan rebuffed the criticism, saying that "The ministry found, time and again, that the Shafadn has met all of its requirements, which is why the extension was granted.
"It seems that the ministry is enamored with the notion of the levy in order to beef up its budget, and has forgotten its real purpose," he said.
A Shafdan statement said that "If the ministry refrains from extending the exemption we would have no choice but the defer NIS 60 million ($16.25 million) in costs onto the public."