Israel's Sea Is Not For Chickens


Israel has great laws, say lawyers we interviewed here, the problem is enforcing them. A landmark court case, reported here last week, proves that the Israeli Government is clamping down on polluters and protecting one of its only natural resources, the Mediterranean Sea. According to the Ministry of Environmental Protection, polluting companies can expect to pay huge fines for illegal dumping of effluents. Last week, the courts fined Hod Hefer and its manager 120,000 shekels (about $30, 000) for discharging wastewater to the sea without a permit in 2000.Specializing in processing poultry meat products the company had been discharging animal leftovers into the Alexander River via a wastewater reservoir near the plant without a permit. The Ministry writes that the court convicted the defendants of offenses under the Water Law and the Prevention of Sea Pollution from Land-Based Sources Law. In December 2006, the court sentenced the company to pay a fine: The manager will have to pay 40,000 shekels (about $8,000) or face six months imprisonment instead. Money collected will be transferred to the Marine Pollution Prevention Fund.

The judge who handed out the fine stated: "The defendants would have been happy to protect the environment, if this activity did not carry a significant economic cost. However, since the protection of the environment involves significant expenses, the defendants preferred to save such expenses, even if at the cost of damage to the environment. Therefore, the fine should be such as to cause the defendants to internalize the economic cost of environmental protection in their economic activities".