Despite Salvation Efforts, Northern Israeli Shoreline Continues to Decline

Construction in Haifa Bay has disrupted the natural flow of sand, but replenishing the sand on the beach has not solved the problem

Zafrir Rinat
Zafrir Rinat
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A collapsing wall at the Kiryat Haim beach.
A collapsing wall at the Kiryat Haim beach, January 22, 2019.Credit: Rami Shllush
Zafrir Rinat
Zafrir Rinat

The shoreline at Kiryat Haim, a Haifa suburb, has suffered extensive damage in recent weeks due to the erosion of sand on the beach in the area, and replenishing the sand has not solved the problem.

While it is not an official swimming beach, the broad, sandy expanse is popular with swimmers and fishermen alike. About three years ago, the firm Petroleum & Energy Infrastructures, which has a fuel storage facility nearby, built a massive wall on its property's western boundary. That left a narrow, dry strip between the wall and the Mediterranean, but over the past two years, the sea has swallowed up the strip of land.

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This was apparently caused in part by the construction of a breakwater at the Haifa port that disrupted the natural flow of the sand.

The Israel Port Company, which is responsible for the development of the Haifa port, then brought sand to the beach, but that didn’t solve the problem.

According to Yair Gil, who lives in the area, over the past few weeks, the sea has washed sand underneath a different wall - an inner wall belonging to Gal Marine's shipping terminal - and under a nearby storm drain. This has apparently caused much greater damage.

In addition to the erosion of the beach at Kiryat Haim, around 500 meters (1,600 feet) to the south, a similar disruption of the flow of sand is taking place, again presumably due to the construction of the breakwater.

In a written response, the Environmental Protection Ministry said the erosion at Haifa Bay beaches was predicted in an environmental impact study carried out before work at the port began. One of the ministry's demands from the ports company was that it replenish the sand. Work required by the ministry that is to be carried out this year is designed to address the problem, the ministry said.

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