Cabinet Approves Budget to Clean Up Beaches

An Israeli soldier wearing a full protective suit holds a piece of tar from an oil spill at Sharon Beach Nature Reserve. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

The Israeli Cabinet on Tuesday approved Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s and Environmental Protection Minister Gila Gamliel’s plan to allocate 45 million shekels to treat the pollution of the beaches, remove the waste to disposal sites and restore the situation to what it had been previously. Minister Gamliel agreed to submit draft legislation on readiness and response to maritime oil pollution events within 30 days.

Prime Minister Netanyahu said: “This was a major ecological disaster in which a thousand tons of petroleum and tar were piled up on our beaches. We must act quickly, before it sinks into the ground, especially in rocky areas and this would be damage that would be with us for many years. Therefore, we are acting quickly…”

Environmental Protection Minister Gamliel: “We organized very quickly in order to enable the allocation of significant funds for local authorities along the coast and the Nature and Parks Authority. We will do everything so that we will be able to repair the ecological damage and go back to enjoying Israel’s beautiful beaches, and open the coming bathing season on schedule. We are continuing a complex international investigation to apprehend and severely punish those responsible.”

The budget outline included allocations for:

* Assistance to the local authorities and the Nature and Parks Authority, which are responsible for the Mediterranean Sea beaches that were damaged by tar (up to NIS 250,000 per kilometer of shoreline), for treating the polluted beaches including the fauna that were hurt. A NIS 62,500 advance in immediate assistance will be transferred from this amount.

* Transporting, treating and removing the waste tar from the temporary storage sites on the beaches to the designated sites.

* The carrying out of surveys and studies, economic and environmental analyses, actions to monitor and document the scope and magnitude of the damage, the rehabilitation process and evaluating the use of innovative materials to repair the coastal and maritime environment including their biodiversity, in order to – inter alia – improve treatment and response in similar future events.

It was also decided to establish a committee to recommend – within six months – ways to deal with and prevent maritime disaster scenarios, including estimates of the necessary budgets and personnel.

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