Adam Teva V'Din attorney, Karen Halperin-Museri, was the only representative of the public speaking at the contanimated sites conference hosted by the Israel Institute for Energy & Environment, on January 10, 2012. There was a demonstration outside the conference site organized by local activists whose homes are adjacent to a contaminated site in the Sharon region.
The legislative proposal - long awaited
The government has taken its first legislative steps relating to one of the most neglected areas in Israel's environmental protection regimes.
In January 2011, the government bill on remediation of contaminated sites was approved for parliamentary review. The Environment Ministry has presented a bill modeled on Adam Teva V'Din's own legislative proposal first presented to the Knesset nearly three years ago.
Adam Teva V'Din will support the Environment Ministry as it pushes the bill through the Knesset, even though our own legislative proposal is still pending. Government bills are presented after consensus has been reached with the Treasury and other government agencies. Government bills are less likely to encounter opposition during the parliamentary review in comparison to Private Member's bills, especially when it comes to complex issues that will have significant budgetary impact.
Our legislative bill: Remediation of Contaminated Sites (2008)
Adam Teva V'Din drafted in 2008 a comprehensive legislative bill mandating a remediation framework for contaminated sites where soil, air and water resources are polluted. The Remediation of Contaminated Sites bill was adopted as a private members' bill by members of the Knesset's Environmental Caucus (MKs Ophir Pines-Paz, Dov Khenin, Danny Yahalom, Rabbi Michael Melchior and Moshe Gafni).
The Adam Teva V'Din bill is the first legislative proposal in Israel that defines within the Israeli context ‘contaminated sites’ and assigns authority for environmental risk and other surveys, as well as cleanup and remediation.
The bill also provides a fiscal framework for conducting and paying for remediation activities. The law borrows from effective legislation in the US and Europe – and benefits from the lessons learned from the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Superfund for treating uncontrolled or abandoned sites where hazardous waste possibly affects local ecosystems or residents.
Adam Teva V'Din's bill pays particular attention to:
Identification and definition of a contaminated site and its environs, including sub-surface water resources
Assigning authority to the Environmental Protection Ministry to issue injunctions compelling parties to prepare and conduct environmental risk surveys
Setting up a ‘circle of responsibility’ including landowners (usually the State), polluters, financial agencies, etc. to avoid ‘orphan’ sites.
Financial incentives for cleaning up contaminated sites
Our bill provides an operational and fiscal framework for remediation of defunct sites like the Israel Military Industries (Taas) complexes, several of which are in urban areas and posed for redevelopment. It also sets up a fund for future clean-up programs based on levies to be raised from industrial polluters. The contaminated sites remediation fund will provide incentives to developers and others to clean-up contaminated water and land – before sites are released for construction.
Equally importantly, the bill places a legal obligation on planning authorities to condition deposit of real estate development plans upon the prior completion of comprehensive environmental risk surveys and resources rehabilitation plans.
This is a crucial element given the pressures to develop former Taas sites ‘piecemeal,’ without completion of soil and water contamination analyses or reference to environmental conditions in adjacent and adjoining plots, as is the case in "Taas City," a new town planned between Herzliya, Ramat Hasharon and Hod Hasharon.