Cleaning the floor of the polluted Kishon riverbed, near Haifa, and turning it into part of a park has become one of the Environmental Protection Ministry’s leading projects in the past couple of years.
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The project is run by the ministry through the Kishon Drainage Authority. Canada’s EnGlobe Corporation, which won the tender for the project, pulled out a few months ago over disagreements with the project administration over the rate of the cleaning and how to deal with the pollution issues.
Until recently, EnGlobe had not commented publicly on what happened on the project. But a few weeks ago, several company officials were interviewed on Canadian television and voiced serious complaints about the treatment the company received in Israel. They said that during work on the project, new pollution problems were discovered that were unknown to them at the time of the tender, and that the project turned out to be much more complicated than expected when they bid on it.
After attempts to reach agreement on the continuation of the work failed, in January company personnel encountered members of a private security company who demanded that they leave the work site and leave behind equipment worth NIS 20 million. Once the Canadian company was gone, the work was given to Israeli companies, who made use of the equipment that EnGlobe had brought to the site.
During the past months, EnGlobe entered into a mediation process with the Kishon Drainage Authority, but it has not been successful. Now the Canadian company is liable to take legal action against the project administration, which comes under the Environmental Protection Ministry. Professionals associated with the Canadian company said that beyond the serious matter of the equipment seizure, there is also the question of whether the Israelis are capable of dealing with the additional problems that were uncovered in the project.
The Kishon River Rehabilitation Project Administration responded: “Since the beginning of the year, work at the site has been going at an accelerated pace, and so far 2.5 out of 6 kilometers of polluted river bottom have been excavated. The work is due to be completed in 2016. ...
“For several months, the Kishon Drainage Authority has been in mediation with the Canadian firm, which halted its work. ... The aim is to reach understandings with the company. As for claims regarding extra pollution, the tender relied upon periodic tests performed by professionals under supervision of the Environmental Protection Ministry. At no point were there unusual findings. The Drainage Authority and the ministry will take all necessary measures to complete the national mission of restoring and rehabilitating the Kishon for the public’s benefit.”