Palestine/Israel News and Information

Israel to dump 10,000 tons of garbage a month in the West Bank



By David Ratner, Haaretz,

Israel has decided to transfer garbage beyond the Green Line and dump it in the West Bank for the first time since 1967. The project was launched despite international treaties prohibiting an occupying state from making use of occupied territory unless it benefits the local population.

In addition, pollution experts say such use of the Kedumim quarry – located in an old Palestinian quarry between the Kedumim settlement and Nablus – will jeopardize Palestinian water sources.

The dump operators plan to deposit some 10,000 tons of garbage from the Dan and Sharon regions every month in what was known as the Abu Shusha quarry, the largest in the West Bank. In the last few days trucks and bulldozers have been covering the quarry`s floor with brown soil to turn it into a garbage dump. Huge semi-trailer trucks are to bring the Sharon and Dan garbage, which will be amassed at the Hadarim garbage station near Tel Mond prison, to the quarry.

The construction is being carried out by Baron Industrial Park, a company jointly owned by the councils of Kedumim and Karnei Shomron and the Shomron Regional Council. The Hadarim site is operated by D.S.H., a private, Netanya-based garbage disposal company owned by the Valensi family.

The initiative started out as an idea to rehabilitate a 15-dunam plot in the quarry by filling it with building waste, junk and shredded tires. It evolved into a huge project spread over dozens of dunams for household garbage, operated as a private business and expected to yield tens of millions of shekels.

Transferring Israeli garbage to the West Bank will be much cheaper for D.S.H. than taking it to a site in Israel. Local and regional councils pay NIS 90 to NIS 105 for removing a ton of garbage to a transit station in Israel. They pay the dump some NIS 40 per ton for depositing the waste and the transporter gets another NIS 30 per ton.

The profit is NIS 20 to NIS 35 per ton. But burying the garbage in the Kedumim dump, according to an internal Baron Park document, will cost a mere NIS 30 per ton, leaving a greater profit in the hands of the entrepreneurs and operators.

Transferring the Israeli garbage to Samaria will bring the company a profit of NIS 6 per ton, totaling some NIS 60,000 a month.

Israel`s construction and operation of the Kedumim dump appears to be in violating the international law, as it involves transferring garbage to territory defined as occupied. Second, experts warn that the dump would jeopardize the Mountain Aquifer, one of the largest freshwater sources in Israel and Palestine. This is because the dump, which was originally used for `dry waste,` will receive and absorb household garbage with organic substances.

It is also unclear whether the procedures for constructing and operating the dump on state land were carried out according to the law, or how bulldozers are working at the site before a final construction permit has been issued.

Why has the civil administration failed to take measures against Baron Industrial Park for allowing D.S.H. – six months ago – to dump hundreds of tons of garbage in the site in violation of the law and before the Environment Ministry and Water Commission approved it?

West Bank sources say the reason for the civil administration`s inaction is that everyone is afraid of Daniella Weiss, the council head of Kedumim, one of the owners of Baron Park.

The biggest mystery is how D.S.H., of all companies, was allowed to build and operate a very profitable waste site on state land without any tender being issued, as required by law.

The Kedumim dump will create an absurd situation. The West Bank is filled with illegal Palestinian garbage dumps, which constitute serious environmental hazards and jeopardize the groundwater, because the civil administration refuses to let Palestinians build modern waste disposal sites. The most modern dump being built there – the Kedumim dump – is intended only for garbage from Israel.

`We are dealing with a double crime,` says MK Yossi Sarid, former environment minister. `On the one hand, Israel is preventing the Palestinians from making use of the quarry and its resources, and in exchange we are giving them the Sharon`s garbage. I believe this is a violation of international treaties.`

Iche Meir, the director of the union of Samaria local authorities for the environment, said the work had been done without the union`s approval and was illegal.

The civil administration issued an order to stop the work on the site and Baron Park was instructed to move the garbage and start the insulation work on the quarry floor again, as a condition for the Environment Ministry`s approval.

Haaretz has learned that although the environment minister has not yet approved the work on the dump, and despite the civil administration`s order to stop the construction, the bulldozers are still working on the site.

A civil administration spokesman commented that he was unable to provide the answers to the legal issues, due to lack of time. He said the Kedumim council head gave D.S.H. a permit to operate a garbage dump before the plan was approved by the authorities and this is why the civil administration ordered the work to stop.

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