Authorities Delay Approval of Filters at Polluting Power Station

Hadera's plant emits tons of fumes every hour; environmentalists: planning committee bows to pressure.

The installation of filters for toxic gas at Hadera's heavily polluting Orot Rabin power station still awaits approval even though the pollutants can cause malignant diseases, said the director of a local ecological association.

The facility emits some 16 tons of toxic gas, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide every hour.

An updated national master plan stipulates that gas filters must be installed in some of the power station's production units by January 2010, while in the others they must be installed by 2013.

Yeruham Lakritz, the director of the Hadera Environmental Association, said the plan to install the gas filters is being delayed because the local planning and construction committee has not yet approved the scheme. The advanced technology reduces the power station's efficiency by 10 percent, which requires the Israel Electric Corporation to build an additional smokestack, he said.

Installing the filter system would prevent the release of 90 percent of the toxic gas into the air. However, the IEC said that since it published an international tender for equipment in 2000 the project was suspended.

The Environmental Protection Ministry and Hadera Environmental Association decided to improve the coal instead.

The station has an electrostatic filter that is only useful for trapping physical particles.

Lakritz said the electrostatic filter uses improved low-sulfur coal that reduces the toxic gas emission. However, large quantities of toxic materials still find their way out.

The Hadera municipality said that "building an additional smokestack will damage the landscape and may increase the pollution. The city has instructed Igud Hadera to propose alternatives to reduce toxic gas emissions without having to build another smokestack."