An oil recycling plant in the South Hebron hills has been slapped with a NIS 433,000 fine by the Environmental Protection Ministry. The plant, part of the Delek Group conglomerate owned by Yitzhak Tshuva, was accused of harming the environment and causing safety risks after failing to remove or neutralize hundreds of oil barrels left in the area. The plant’s appeals against the fines were rejected by the courts.
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The plant receives used oil from garages with the aim of recycling and reusing it as an additive to bitumen (asphalt). Four years ago, ministry supervisors discovered hundreds of barrels accumulated around the plant, and demanded that they be removed to the Ramat Hovav hazardous waste disposal facility.
According to ministry officials, for more than a year the oil in the barrels leaked into the ground, causing environmental damage. The plant was fined after it failed to comply with the demand to remove the barrels to Ramat Hovav.
Plant officials appealed to the Jerusalem District Court, claiming the fines were imposed due to the company’s failure to comply with various standards, not because of the actual damage caused. The plant began to pay the fine and transfer the barrels to Ramat Hovav only after the court eventually recommended that it cancel the appeal.
Yossi Hermon, the plant’s director, explained on Sunday that “we asked to build a facility that would deal with the materials in the barrels, but it took a long time until we received the necessary permits. There was a bit of oil that leaked into the ground and we immediately took steps to repair the damage. This is a plant that is needed by the Environmental Protection Ministry, since we recycle used oil. Today the facility we wanted to build is already active.”
Officials at the ministry said the plant received several warnings to remove the barrels and failed to do so. Only when the ministry limited the permit for use of toxins at the plant, and when it was banned from dealing with other forms of production, did the plant finally remove the barrels from the area.