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The Ministry of Environmental Protection on Wednesday identified the source of heavy air pollution in the Haifa Bay area believed to have caused eye irritation among dozens of local residents as well as pungent odors in the city.

Tests conducted by the ministry and the Haifa Bay Municipalities Organization identified two sources of irregular pollution: excessive emissions of the Frutarom chemical plant and the unauthorized burning of tires and plastics at a commercial center near the Kiryat Ata junction.

The contractor in charge of the blaze at a commercial center near Kiryat Ata has been arrested by police, while executives at the Frutarom plant received a summons from the Haifa Bay area branch of the Ministry of Environmental Protection to appear at a hearing scheduled for Sunday to determine steps the ministry plans to take against the plant.

On Wednesday evening, dozens of residents of the eastern Haifa suburbs complained to local authorities of eye sores, strong odors, and difficulty breathing. None of the complainants required medical treatment.

Ministry officials and representatives from the Haifa Bay municipalities organization took air and soil samples in the area in order to determine the source of the odors and whether local plant emissions were out of the ordinary.

An expert at the ministry stated that unseasonable heat and strong western winds had caused the odors to spread over a wide area, distant from their sources.