Israel: Scientists Oppose Kishon River Dredging

Environmental protection ministry will set up initial tenders in a few weeks for dredging sledge pools of the Kishon river, Haaretz.com reports. They believe that the river is contaminated by the oil refineries, chemical plants and factories.

The plan is to divert the course of a 500-meter stretch and dredge sledge pools along several kilometers of the river contaminated with heavy metals and petroleum. The dredged material will be transported to the 500-meter section of dry riverbed, and is then planned to be treated biologically.

Costs of the project would be covered by companies involved in pollution of the river. The Oil Refineries plan to contribute 90 million and Haifa Chemicals 28 million.

Many scientists are against dredging the Kishon, and believe that there is no need for this project. “According to our knowledge, the riverbed is not contaminated to the point of justifying the treatment planned by the Environmental Protection Ministry,” the Volcani Center’s Pinchas Fine said. Fine and his Volcani Center colleague Prof. Uri Mingelgrin, former chief scientist in the Environmental Protection Ministry, say that the river is not polluted, although the situation was very different in the past.

“It has been argued that the sludge piles could emit toxic gases from the breakdown of petroleum compounds, and that for that reason they must be treated, but we believe the probability of that happening is low,” Fine said.

The ministry argues that Fine and Mingelgrin are not experts in this field.

It is concluded that the dredging project will not pose a threat to public health and will improve the Kishon’s drainage as well as restore the river’s health.

Dredging Today Staff, March 28, 2012;

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