'Green Police' Ill Equipped to Crack Down on Illegal Dumping

Four new truck parks have begun operating across Israel, but not for trucking companies or drivers looking for a place to rest. The lots are being used to park trucks confiscated because their drivers used them to dump waste at illegal dumping sites.

The Environment Ministry has tried during the past year to step up its fight against trash pirates, who are responsible for some of the country's largest concentrations of pollution, and topping the list of its targets are the truckers.

"We catch a truck nearly every day and we take action to confiscate it from its owner, which hits them economically very hard, because their truck is made inoperable," says Yitzhak Ben David, deputy director of law enforcement at the ministry.

The trash pirates pollute and also save the fee they should pay for dumping garbage in an authorized site.

The ministry's first-quarter report on law enforcement states 44 vehicles were confiscated - trucks and off-road vehicles - and were taken to special lots, where they are guarded. The ministry also carried out several large-scale operations like one that led to seven trucks being confiscated near Bnei Brak. In another successful operation, the police, at the ministry's request, chased a truck that dumped construction waste near Tira and confiscated it.

Ben David says the ministry has still not had the effect it seeks. "If we were taking 1,000 trucks each year, and not 150 like we do now, it would have much greater effect and put much greater economic pressure on them."

To increase enforcement, Ben David has asked for inspectors and police officers at his disposal to be doubled. Currently there are several dozen "green police" available, part of the Diamond squad, which specifically focuses on trash pirates. Additional manpower will allow for more investigators, including those who look into the profits of the trash pirates, information that may then be used in court to bolster the cases against them.

The ministry is also facing a shortage of legislation. Trash pirates continue to operate with impunity because they use private dumping sites where the ministry has no law enforcement authority.

Ben David says seeks amendments to the law that will allow access to private dumping grounds and give the green police with legal authority to carry out arrests and question suspects.

He also wants the law amended so drivers of trucking companies that are involved in accidents while carrying dangerous substances can be brought in for questioning for negligence. "Currently, a driver involved in such an accident, which sometimes blocks an entire highway and endangers the population, is tried only for traffic violations," he says.