The coal-fueled power plant in Hadera meets all the relevant environmental regulations but is the primary cause of half the 510 "air pollution incidents" that took place in the Sharon and southern Carmel regions last year, according to the recently released annual report of the Municipal Association for Environmental Protection in the Sharon-Carmel area.

An air pollution incident is defined as a situation in which pollutants are concentrated in the air for 30 consecutive minutes at a minimum of one-quarter of the allowed levels.

Ilan Sadeh, chairman of the municipal association, said his organization would continue keeping track of the emissions. "The Israel Electric Corporation committed to installing the necessary means to reduce pollution by 2013," he said. "We will continue to track and monitor the power plant."

The association received multiple complaints shortly before the Sukkot holiday, after the coal-powered plant emitted particulate matter into the atmosphere.

The IEC, which operates the plant, said it was forced to shut down one of the power-producing units, as a result of which the facility meant to reduce pollution also stopped working. In any case, the company said, the air pollution did not exceed the legal limits.

In 2009 the plant was responsible for a total of 296 hours of pollution, as well as for a yellowish-brown strip that regularly appears in the sky in the area, the report said. It said the primary cause is nitrogen oxide emissions, which can trigger various respiratory problems. The rest of the air pollution incidents in the area were caused by auto emissions.

The IEC said that in addition to changes it has made to help air quality, it has begun purchasing and installing mechanisms to reduce pollution. The company noted that the pollution in the incidents referred to in the report was within the legally permitted range, and said it was in the midst of a project costing billions of shekels to reduce nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide emissions.

In July eight Greenpeace activists were arrested for infiltrating the power plant to protest its use of coal. The activists approached the plant in inflatable dinghies and climbed up ropes to reach an elevated seaside coal dock, Greenpeace said.

Earlier in the month, Israel arrested three Greenpeace activists after they commandeered a South African coal freighter en route to the Hadera power station.

 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.