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The Environmental Protection Ministry recently decided not to prosecute Sano Bruno's Enterprises for polluting the Yarkon River, because of an inability to pinpoint the culprit. In November 2008, cleaning materials overwhelmed a waste treatment center near the river and eventually seeped into the river itself, seriously harming a stretch of the river.

Last week a resident of Tel Aviv, Dr. Ehud Finkelstein, appealed the ministry's decision to the State Prosecutor's Office.

Two years ago a fire at a furniture factory in the industrial area of Hod Hasharon spread to the adjacent Sano plant, damaging containers of detergent. Their contents, mixed with the large amounts of water used to extinguish the fire, were discharged into the Hod Hasharon waste treatment plant. The plant broke down, causing pollutants to be discharged into the river. An investigation was launched against Sano after the incident.

The ministry's legal department wrote that the contamination destroyed the entire ecosystem of a stretch of the river dozens of kilometers long. During the cleanup operation, 106 tons of dead fish were removed from the water.

In a statement released yesterday, the Yarkon River Drainage Authority estimated that it took nearly a year for the river's animal population to recover from the incident.

In explaining the ministry's decision not to prosecute, despite the severity of the contamination, its lawyers wrote that all efforts to determine the precise circumstances that caused the detergents to reach the treatment plant were fruitless.

"The evidence is insufficient to determine that the contaminants that reached [the treatment plant] in a certain way were the same effluents that caused the excess foaming of the plant and damaged its operation," they wrote.

The ministry did not offer an alternative explanation that did not involve the Sano detergents.