Tanker Truck Fingered for Jezreel Valley Contamination

Spilled herbicide sullied reservoirs, damaged crops.

A tanker truck transporting industrial waste to a treatment center in the Haifa area was apparently the source of a major contamination incident at Haifa's wastewater treatment plant. The incident resulted in the contamination of large irrigation reservoirs in the Jezreel Valley.

About three weeks ago the Water Authority announced the suspension of crop irrigation in the Jezreel Valley and the Ta'anakhim region using treated wastewater after high concentrations of weed killer was found in the water. Farmers switched to using fresh water to water crops. Dozens of tons of the herbicide atrazine were later found to have contaminated the reservoirs, in one of the worst incidents of its kind since water treated at the Haifa facility began to flow into Israel's irrigation reservoirs several years ago.

The Water Authority and the Ministry of Environmental Protection's Green Police began looking into the source of the contamination, while the ministers of agriculture and of environmental protection asked the Israel Police and the Shin Bet security service to investigate the possibility that the contamination was intentional.

The contamination damaged certain crops, but no produce with hazardous levels of atrazine were sent to market.

The Water Authority and Green Police concluded that the source of the contamination was most probably a tanker truck that transported, with Environmental Protection Ministry approval, industrial waste to a different Haifa-area treatment center for stabilization, to render it non-hazardous to the environment.