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Israeli Environmental Protection Ministry Takes Major Step to Ensure Environmental Rehabilitation per Polluter Pays Principle

The Knesset Finance Committee, headed by MK Alex Kushnir (Yisrael Beitenu), recently approved a mechanism for compensation for the rehabilitation of industrial waste damages caused by Rotem Amfert (of the ICL Group). The committee arrived at the mechanism as part of discussions on the extension of the phosphate mining concession currently granted to the company.


Rotem Amfert’s plant is responsible for about 80% of the industrial waste generated annually in Israel. The waste has been piling up over decades in the designated stockpiles on the plant’s grounds. It has reached over 100 million m3 of waste causing soil and groundwater pollution in the plant’s vicinity.


The mechanism for compensation is being defined as a precondition to the granting of an extension of the phosphate mining concession. Moreover, the committee decided that responsibility “shall be imposed on any party that created the risk and not on the environment and the public” (Galit Cohen, director-general of the Ministry of Environmental Protection). The principles of the mechanism include, inter alia, a guarantee in the sum of ILS 60 million. This sum reflects Rotem Amfert’s liability and includes rehabilitation of the mining damages and rehabilitation of the industrial waste damages.


According to this mechanism, the obligation is on Rotem Amfert (and its parent company, ICL Group) to carry out the rehabilitation plans according to the Ministry of Environmental Protection’s directives as a precondition to receiving its consent to extend Rotem’s concession. We note these are expensive, long-range rehabilitation works that could take decades to complete.


This is a precedent-setting mechanism for the rehabilitation of environmental damages on a massive scale. It joins a series of measures Israel is taking to ensure environmental rehabilitation according to the polluter pays principle.

Tags: Environmental law | Environmental Protection