Photo: Environmental Protection Ministry
Bird covered in oil
Photo: Environmental Protection Ministry

Government approves plan for public to pay oil spill cleanup bill

Environmental Protection Ministry plan earmarks NIS 17 million and additional manpower to rehabilitate the Evrona Nature Reserve, where 5 million liters of crude oil spilled; while the oil pipeline company will pay immediate expenses, the public will foot many other costs.

The government on Sunday approved the Environmental Protection Ministry's proposal for the rehabilitation of the Evrona Nature Reserve in the south, following a large crude oil spill that polluted the area weeks ago.



The proposal called for NIS 17 million and additional manpower in order to tend to the polluted soil and injured wildlife in the reserve. The costly rehabilitation effort would be funded by the Israeli taxpayer. While the Eilat Ashkelon Pipeline Company (EAPC) would underwrite immediate costs for restorations, numerous ancillary costs would be passed on to the public.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visiting the spill site. (Photo: Mark Israel Sellem)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visiting the spill site. (Photo: Mark Israel Sellem)


The Finance Ministry would allocate an additional NIS 300,000 to the Environment Protection Ministry. The Nature and Parks Authority would get another NIS 3 million, spread out over five years. The Finance Ministry would also allocate NIS 2 million in 2015 for the monitoring and study of the environment in the area.


For the purpose of rehabilitating wildlife hurt by the spill, the Finance Minsitry would designate an extra NIS 7.5 million, and an initial NIS 1 million for planning a sky bridge for animals.


Residents in the spill area have now discovered that they will be among those paying for their damaged homes. "When I saw the decision, I thought – why is the government giving money and not EAPC?" said Odelia Feldman-Braun, a member of the community in nearby Be'er Ora. "As they say, 'the polluter pays'. But the government supports them and helps the company to keep breaking the law under the government's auspices."


"EAPC is the most recent symptom of a series of failures. There were many previous failures by the bodies that were supposed to monitor its activities," said Elior Alon, also from Be'er Ora. "Ultimately, it turns out that the people who will enjoy these budgets are those who were responsible for overseeing the work. They also bear some responsibility. Maybe they should have imposed payment on EAPC in the first place."


The proposal emphasized that the request did not diminish the Eilat Ashkelon Pipeline Company's (EAPC) responsibility to fix the damages that were caused by the spill by law and did not diminish the state's right to demand the responsible source to compensate for the damages. It was unclear from the decision when exactly the EAPC will be demanded to pay for the cost of damages.


Photo: Elior Alon and Odelia Feldman-Braun
Photo: Elior Alon and Odelia Feldman-Braun


"The decision ignores EAPC's direct responsibility for the environmental catastrophe," said attorney Amit Bracha, CEO of Adam Teva V'Din organization. "It denies the 'polluter pays' principle, does not impose obligatory guarantees and securities to prevent similar cases in the future, and allows the continuation of EAPC's secret conduct, so that an identical or worse disaster could occur tomorrow morning, and this time near population centers."


"EAPC, not the public, should pay for causing the ecological disaster in the Evrona Reserve," said a statement from the Zalul Environmental Association. Maya Jacobs, the organization's CEO, said that "it is inconceivable that Israeli citizens should pay for EAPC's failures." She also criticized the scale of the allocated funds. "17 million shekels spread out over several years does not even approach the real sum required to adequately deal with 5 million liters of spilled crude oil."


The Environmental Protection Ministry said the new decision involved an addition to money that has been, and will continue to be, paid by EAPC, which will be held to the "polluter pays" principle.


פרסום ראשון: 12.28.14, 20:21
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