On Wednesday, ICL, the fertilizer giant in Israel, announced that it would pay compensation of NIS 115 million to the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, along with other plaintiffs.
A class action lawsuit had been filed against the company due to a 2017 leak that had resulted in pollution in the Negev region, specifically the Nahal Ashalim riverbed.
This would make it the biggest amount to be paid in Israel as compensation for environmental damages. The plaintiffs had been seeking damages worth NIS 400 million.
A notification was sent by ICL to the Israeli stock market for announcing the agreement and it also noted that the company would not have to deal with a significant financial impact due to the payout.
Courts still need to give approval to the deal. Some of the funds will be used for rehabilitating the stream, as the disaster’s effects are quite apparent there, and court fees will also be covered.
Local residents of Neve Zohar, Neot HaKikar and Ein Tamar will be given NIS 1.5 million for establishing an organization that will conduct campaigns on behalf of the environment in the Dead Sea and Judean Desert area.
The Roten Amfert Negev was behind the leak in the first place and it will pay out the compensation.
Tamar Zandberg, the Environmental Protection Minister, issued a joint statement with INPA about the agreement, calling it ‘justice’ for the environment and the public.
Said that the compensation would be used for restoration around and in the stream and they would also some of it aside for environmental education, supporting various environmental projects, monitoring and research and promotion of environmental tourism.
The Nature and Parks Authority’s director general, Raya Shourky, said that it could take years to rehabilitate the stream.
She said that the rehabilitation work was extensive and the compromise agreement would ensure cooperation of relevant parties that will give results in the years to come.
The agreement was signed by the Southern District Prosecution Office on behalf of the plaintiffs and it also noted that criminal proceedings could be carried out by the Environmental Ministry.
As a matter of fact, it can also seek sanctions against the ones responsible. The incident had occurred on June 23rd, 2017 at the fertilizer plant of Rotem Amfert Negev.
The evaporation pond’s wall had collapsed, which resulted in extremely toxic wastewater of about 100,000 to 250,000 cubic meters entering the Ashalim stream.
The Environmental Protection Ministry revealed that in the two weeks after the incident, numerous birds and foxes and about 13 ibex, which was 1/3rd of the ones living in the area, were found dead.
The ecology of the stream also suffered from catastrophic damage because of the leak. A recovery monitoring program of 5 years was launched at Ashalim by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority.
The Green Police of the Environmental Protection Ministry is in the midst of a criminal investigation into the cause of the collapse and whether the plant violated any environmental laws.