Demonstration report provided by new blog contributor and IGM member from Haifa, Simon Marriott.
On Sunday afternoon, 14th of December, demonstrators, from as far a field as Tel Aviv and the Galilee, gathered in a northern industrial suburb of Haifa to protest about the pollution coming from one particular factory.
Representatives of three pressure groups: The Israel Green Movement, Green Course and The Coalition for Public Health, as well as citizens of Haifa and the Krayot waved banners, handed out stickers and leaflets and chanted slogans to passing motorists on Route 4 opposite the Frutarom plant.
Frutarom, founded in 1933, is a top player in the international flavour and fragrance market. Over the years Frutarom has become a subsidiary of the New York based ICC Industries, a major international manufacturer and trader of chemicals, plastics and pharmaceuticals. Frutarom is expanding rapidly worldwide; the company recently bought Raychan Food Industries in Israel.
With factories word-wide, Frutarom is being accused of releasing environmentally damaging chemicals into the atmosphere, i.e. polluting. In August 2007 Frutarom was sued in the Haifa Court for 225 million shekels on behalf of workers at the factory and in the area. The Israel Ministry of Environmental Protection had previously identified Frutarom as a key source of pollutants in Haifa Bay, including those that caused eye irritation and strong odors.
As dusk fell many people moved on to the main factory gate to continue the protest and to present a “Top Polluter Certificate” to the management. The honour was declined.
Shai Levin, acting as demonstration coordinator for the Israel Green Movement was pleased both with the turn out and, in particular, from the excellent response to the roadside demonstration.
Amit Rabin, demonstration coordinator on behalf of the Haifa area Coalition on Public Health noted to the demonstrators: “You can control the quality of the food and water you consume, but not the quality of the air you breath. Something must be done to stop the pollution here”. Amit’s right!
Next Friday, IGM members will be joining the protests in Habonim Beach against plans for development on that beautiful spot of coast.
In other news, the Israel Green Movement welcomes Shmuel Gelbhart and the former members of the Green Party in Haifa, who announced yesterday that they were formally leaving the Green Party and joining the Israel Green Movement. Gelbhart has headed the Green Party in the Haifa municipal council for the past ten years and told the local electronic paper “Mynet” that he intends to bring as many voters in the Haifa area as possible to the Green Movement. Welcome Shmuel and colleagues!