Many areas of the Greater Tel Aviv Dan region are still suffering from soil and groundwater contamination whose source is industrial activity that took place decades ago and threatens drinking-water sources and buildings, a new report from the Water Authority states.
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Considerable preventive and rehabilitative measures will be needed in the coming years, according to the report. Aside from the risk to drinking water, these substances can emerge from the ground as gases and put people at risk in basements, shelters and parking garages.
The report is based on a survey of Dan region industrial areas conducted by the Etgar Engineering firm for the Water Authority between 2011 and 2014. The examination focused on four former Israel Military Industries sites, as well as metal-coating plants and dry-cleaning establishments, which were the primary culprits for emissions of organic materials into the ground and from there into the groundwater.
Although most of the plants no longer exist, pollutants that exceed the concentrations permitted for drinking water were found in all the sites examined; sometimes the concentrations were considerably above the permitted levels and in many instances they are spreading.
The highest concentrations were found near sites that had previously housed IMI factories near Pinhas Rosen Street in Tel Aviv and near the Nahalat Yitzhak cemetery. At another plant near the Ramat Gan Stadium, which still produces products for the defense industry, a sewage storage container failed 11 years ago, spreading pollutants throughout the area that will require considerable efforts to neutralize.
The problems posed are highlighted by the cases of the IMI plants. In the area of what was the Magen plant near the cemetery, no solution has yet been found to contain the pollutants in an area where hundreds of apartments are earmarked to be built. In the Pinhas Rosen Street area, the Environmental Protection Ministry has committed to installing ventilation systems in the underground spaces of new buildings to prevent exposure to toxic gases. In 2014 an increase in the concentration of contaminants was detected compared to tests conducted three years’ previously, indicating that the pollution is spreading via groundwater.
In the area of Arvei Nahal Street in Tel Aviv, there was until 1980 an IMI plant for shining and cleaning bullet casings. The plant caused widespread groundwater contamination that is still evident 35 years after the plant closed. This area is near a shaft in which groundwork is being carried out for the Tel Aviv light rail. Last year, work started to pump out groundwater from the site to prevent the spread of the pollutants toward the work area. The water is being purified and then piped into the Ayalon Stream. Similar pumping projects are taking place at several Dan region sites.
Other pollution focal points include Tel Aviv’s Yigal Allon Street, where there were once metalwork plants and a factory for coating, polishing and painting bus frames; the area near a former IMI plant in Ramat Sharon and in the Holon industrial zone.