Israeli Soldiers Get Cancer
From Toxic Waste Dumped
In Mediterranean
HAIFA, ISRAEL -- Eight Greenpeace activists were arrested today while taking action to stop industries from pumping tonnes of toxic waste into the Kishon River, the dirtiest in Israel, which flows into the Mediterranean Sea. The river has become so polluted with the toxic waste that it poses a severe environmental hazard and has been linked to the development of cancers in at least twenty marine commando soldiers who used to dive in its waters as part of their routine training <#one(1).
Greenpeace activists constructed a dam to block one of the industrial effluent pipes that flow into the Kishon River. The activists stopped the pollution reaching the river by redirecting the effluent pipe and returning the waste to the Gadot Biochemicals factory, one of the seven companies responsible for discharging toxic waste <#two(2).
"Human health and environmental death is the cost being paid to preserve the commercial interests of these companies. The Israeli public is being denied the right to safe environment by being exposed to these toxic chemicals. By not addressing Israel's pollution problems effectively, the government continues to prioritise industrial interests over those of the public," said Liad Ortar, Greenpeace campaigner in Israel.
Samples taken last year by Greenpeace directly from the seven effluent pipes, including one from the US owned Haifa Chemicals, revealed high levels of toxic heavy metals and other hazardous substances. <#three(3)
Greenpeace warned that the marine commandos' cases are the only ones under investigation and is concerned that other people who regularly spend time in the Kishon - fishermen, divers, sailing clubs and other youth clubs - may also have been affected by the poisons. Currently, the Israeli authorities are suggesting that a five- kilometre by-pass pipe is constructed to redirect the toxic effluent that has killed the Kishon River to the Mediterranean Sea.
"This would result in carcinogenic and other hazardous pollutants being dumped into the Mediterranean Sea instead. The Government cannot continue avoiding its responsibility by suggesting ineffectual compromises - it must accept that the only solution is to force these industries to stop creating this toxic pollution," added Ortar.
Greenpeace demanded that the Government of Israel follows up on its commitment to ratify the Land-Based Sources Protocol in the Barcelona Convention as the first step towards the formulation of a policy that will effectively stop toxic discharges to sea. The lack of action continues to endorse the environmental degradation and health hazards posed by industry in Israel.
- Liad Ortar , Greenpeace Mediterranean campaigner in Israel, Mobile +972 583 87705, Tel - Haifa headquarters +972 4 825 1564, Tel-Aviv Office +972 3 510 2079
- Caroline Muscat, Greenpeace Mediterranean Campaign and Media Director. Mobile +356 9429964
For interviews with Yuval Tamir, marine commando, please call +972 54 816 588
Visit <link
A detailed press briefing on the Barcelona Convention is available at the Greenpeace Mediterranean website: <link
Photos of the marine commandos and today's action are available from the Greenpeace International picture desk +31 20 524 9580
Notes to Editors:
(1) Research linking cancers in marine commandos to the toxic pollution in the Kishon was conducted by Professor Eli Richter from the University of Jerusalem. As a result of his research, a national inquiry committee is currently investigating the case.
(2) The companies are: US-owned Haifa Chemicals, Carmel Ulipinim, Gadot Biochemicals, Gadiv, the oil refineries and the municipal sewage treatment plant.
(3) The scientific analysis was conducted at the Greenpeace International Laboratories at Exeter University in the United Kingdom. The Haifa Chemicals discharge pipe revealed elevated levels of the heavy metals chromium, copper and cadmium, as well as tribromomethane and several other brominated and chlorinated organic compounds. Chlorinated benzenes were found in the municipal waste sewerage treatment plant effluent, suggesting a significant additional input of industrial effluent to the municipal sewers. Elevated concentrations of chromium were also found in the effluents of Carmel Ulipinim. Gadiv plant was shown to be a significant contributor of complex hydrocarbon mixtures into the Kishon River. Benzene and chlorinated organic compounds were also found in Gadot Biochemicals effluents.

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