Capital's Garbage Dump Close to Overflowing

Jerusalemites will soon have nowhere to dump their trash, as the existing dump at Abu Dis is nearly full, and plans to open a new dump in the West Bank have been shelved for fear that it would violate international law.

The nearby West Bank settlement of Ma'aleh Adumim, which operates the Abu Dis dump, is facing the same problem. Ma'aleh Adumim city manager Eli Har Nir said the dump will certainly have to be closed in the next few years, but the lack of an alternative means it must be kept open for as long as possible. To facilitate this goal, there are plans to set up a recycling center at the site, which would sharply reduce the amount of trash that must be buried - currently some 1,200 tons a day. Permission is also being sought to raise the landfill's maximal height.

Recognizing that Abu Dis would soon have to be replaced, plans were drafted for a new dump near Mishor Adumim, also in the West Bank, approved by the relevant planning agencies three years ago. However, the Attorney General's Office then issued an opinion saying that under international law, a dump cannot be opened in occupied territory if it serves the occupier only. The plan was therefore shelved, and no alternative has yet been found.

According to Shuni Goldberger of the Environmental Protection Ministry, plans do not even exist for a transit station where the trash could be collected and sent elsewhere in the country, even though "such a station will be needed whatever solution is chosen."