Farmers Indicted for Flies in the OR

Piles of organic waste dumped in kibbutz fields close to hospital produced foul odor and medical hazard

Yaron Kaminsky

The smell was not the only problem caused by the organic waste that Kibbutz Alumot’s farmers piled up in the fields next to Poriya Hospital in Tiberias. According to an indictment served by attorney Oren Katz of the Environmental Protection Ministry against the kibbutz in the Haifa Magistrate’s Court, the waste attracted flies that got into the hospital itself and interfered with the medical treatment administered there.

The indictment describes an incident that took place in the summer of 2012, in which a farmer on the kibbutz piled up organic waste in the fields next to the hospital and the community of Neveh Oved. The waste caused a foul odor and bred flies, which became a nuisance in the area. According to the indictment, the flies interfered with medical treatment at Poriya Hospital, even shutting down the ophthalmology operating room for a day.

According to the indictment, a truck poured piles of organic fertilizer in several places in Kibbutz Alumot’s fields. The fertilizer remained in piles for three weeks without being scattered on the fields and absorbed into the soil. This led to an extremely foul odor that disturbed the patients and staff in the hospital as well as residents of Neveh Oved.

“The odor was so strong that it interfered with medical treatment administered in Poriya Hospital,” the indictment read. “The number of flies in the area increased significantly, creating a nuisance that interfered with medical treatment at the hospital and disturbed the area’s inhabitants.”

The charge is “causing a strong and intolerable odor that disturbs, or that could disturb, passersby.”

A spokesperson for the hospital commented, “During the summer of 2012, we suffered from a foul and strong odor. Another serious problem was the wave of flies on the hospital grounds. Since this nuisance endangered the sterile environment, the director of the hospital’s ophthalmology department had to postpone a day of scheduled surgery.

Shimon Sabach, the hospital’s administrative director, said, “In the summer of 2012 we were exposed to a sanitation problem from an odor that came from the fields adjoining the hospital. We received complaints about it from patients, visitors and the medical staff. We contacted the Environmental Protection Ministry, which dealt with the problem right away. I am happy to say that the problem did not return this summer.”