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Government-owned Refineries Fined

A magistrate’s court imposed a token fine on the government-owned Haifa Refineries and gave it two years to modify its waste gas burning facilities to reduce air pollution or shut down.

The fine of 200 Shekels ($26) was the maximum allowed under the public nuisance law. Both the refineries and the Haifa municipality which brought the action, have spent substantial sums for legal counsel in the year-long dispute. The refinery management said it would take two years to install equipment designed to reduce the black smoke and noxious gas emissions at a cost of more than $1 million.

The smoke and foul smells became a problem two years ago after the refineries installed two gas flares at its new ethylene plant as a safety precaution. An American engineer, Robert Chase who is a consultant to Standard Oil of California, checked the plant and declared it to be of “excellent design.” But he suggested alterations to reduce pollution.

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