The Industrial zone - Ramat Hovav - has been a bone of contention for years. The area is home to 23,000 Beduins– once nomadic folk who now live near the site known for its toxic health effects. In 2004, a study showed that cancer and mortality rates are 65 percent higher within a 20 kilometer radius of the Ramat Hovav industrial zone. In recent news, the Israeli Army announced plans to build a training village for soldiers only 5 kilometers from Ramat Hovav. Some 15,000 young soldiers are expected to live next to Israel's largest poisonous industrial waste site at the new training camp called Bahadim City. But researchers at the Sami Shamoon College of Engineering believe that such plans need to be redressed. Tomorrow the College is hosting a public forum featuring influential speakers from all sides of the story. Representatives from Shamoon say that after three years of negotiations, Israel's Ministry of Environmental Protection secured The Ramat Hovav Agreement, consisting of promises from Ramat Hovav industrial leaders to take steps to reduce their waste hazards and pollution. But have the polluters been complying wonder researchers at Shamoon College. Will the Ramat Hovav agreement set a precedent for how the Israeli government handles other environmental problems in the future?
These questions and more will be addressed tomorrow at Shamoon’s Green Processes Center which aims to build bridges between the various parties affected by pollution from the Hovav site: the residents, the industrialists, and the government.
According to Israel’s Union for Environmental Defense,
the Ramat Hovav site has long been a source of grave environmental pollution - as local chemicals factories have managed to avoid taking responsibility for the hazards they produce at the expense of the environment and health of the surrounding population.
The treatment of wastewater at the site has been of particular concern, as the centralized wastewater treatment facility used by the factories has caused underground contamination and offensive odors affecting neighboring communities.
Speakers at tomorrow’s forum will include Israel's Minister of Environmental Protection, heads of major Green movements, director of Ramat Hovav toxic waste site, and leaders of the Negev's largest industries, who dispose of their toxic waste at Romat Hovav.
For more information email Dahlia Greer or call US number: 310-339-1060.