Contaminated Land

Contaminated Land

The problem of land pollution is one of the most difficult problems to tackle in the environmental area - in terms of the ability to identify the infection, define the applicable treatment technologies, in terms of the high costs of treatment and in terms of the division of legal responsibilities on soil contamination. For example, it is often difficult to determine who is responsible for pollution of a land parcel, which changed hands several times, after a period of several decades. The answer to this question will determine who pays for the removal of pollution and restoration of land. 

The judgment of the Haifa District Court concerning the plan for the establishment of a "children's park", on the grounds of a former highly hazardous waste disposal of asbestos, on the shore of Nahariya, can use as an example.

In light of the complex questions of concern addressed by that judgment, it is only mentioned in passing the fact that the Nahariya Municipality, the project entrepreneur, has invested substantial sums in cleaning the compound of the carcinogen substance, although it is not the factor which caused the pollution, the factor being "Eithanit" factory, (former "Isasbest" ) located nearby. When addressing the issue of asbestos in light of this incident, the Prevention of Asbestos Hazards and Harmful Dust Act determines the cases in which it is mandatory to dismantle asbestos, and the procedures and training necessary to perform such work. Carrying out asbestos work by unlicensed contractors, without any permits and licenses required for this kind of work, leads to legal exposure of the client in addition to the contractor. 

In terms of the environmental law in Israel, there is no primary legislation or secondary legislation that directly deals with the treatment of contaminated soils. For several years, a bill is being promoted on contaminated land that is still not accepted, however, it is already known that this bill intends to apply retroactively responsibility on land pollution. Today, in the absence of a specific and comprehensive legal arrangement on the subject, treatment of contaminated soils is performed by the Environment Ministry using the Hazardous Substances Law. Sometimes, you may also find instructions on the subject of additional conditions of a business license or a building permit. For example in the US - comprehensive federal legislation exists : the Environmental Response Act, the Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), better known as "Superfund". The purpose of this legislation is the projection of strict liability on a number of factors, which are related in the present, or were related, in one way or another, to pollution of soil with dangerous substances. This responsibility rests jointly and severally. Most of the power of these laws lies in the fact that this sweeping liability has retroactive application. Furthermore, the law defines what is contaminated land, and makes provisions for the preparation of programs for the treatment of contaminated sites. The law establishes a mechanism whereby the responsibility for cleaning the land, or to cover cleaning expenses, is established. 

In the absence of legislation, our lawyers can help you find your way with environmental regulations and administrative guidelines issued by the Ministry of Environmental Protection, and assist in planning and formulation of a strategy and of action for cleaning and rehabilitation of contaminated soil, with constant legal review of the legality of the demands presented to you.