The Association For Quality Of Life And Environment In Nahariya il. (AQLEN)

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Nahariya is a coastal city in the North of Israel, and has 50,000 inhabitants.  The city and its surroundings are subjected to air, water and ground pollution as a result of the systematic and wide dispersion of asbestos waste by a large local factory, part of a multi-national corporation.  In addition, the city lacks sustainable planning, losing it’s open areas for the benefit of urban development and building.


The Association for Quality of Life and Environment in Nahariya (hereafter: AQLEN) was founded in 1994 (and officially registered in 1996) to help develop awareness and aid the local population and authorities in taking responsibility for the environment in order to ameliorate the quality of life, to reduce ecological dangers and to encourage professional environmental planning for the city and its surroundings.  AQLEN operates on the public’s behalf to render local governmental institutions accountable for their actions, presents environmental issues to the public, and impacts public planning and policy.  The continuation of our activities will enable environmental issues to remain a priority on the public agenda.


Tragically, the regular daily contact with this raw asbestos and the pervasive presence of asbestos waste has left its mark on the Nahariya community.  Nearly a decade after the factory ceased production of asbestos products, scores of local residents are suffering from asbestos-related diseases, with local incidences of mesothelioma, a fatal cancer, running at over 100 times the national norms in other Western Countries.[1]  Indeed it is possible to say the problem has reached epidemic proportions:  of the 48,000 residents of Nahariya, statistics show that the rate of developing a range of cancers due to asbestos pollutants are increasing every year.


Aside from the tragic health problems, this situation directly affects the economic development of Nahariya and the western Galilee by keeping tourists away from this attractive region .


AQLEN is an autonomous organization, operating as a non-profit organization in the public interest. It subsists on membership fees and donations from Israeli and overseas sources.  An elected Members Committee made up of a small professional team (10 members) and active volunteers govern the Association.  AQLEN has mobilized 300 volunteer activist members from Nahariya and the surrounding area to assist in achieving its mission, goals and realizing its vision of a better, safer city and region.


Since the late 1990s, AQLEN has pioneered awareness-raising of the ongoing threats to the community of asbestos.  Increased public concern and press exposure, together with an AQLEN-coordinated lawsuit, blocked plans to build the Kiddies Park amusement facility on a lot adjacent to the closed factory, heavily contaminated with asbestos waste.  AQLEN is now established as the de facto Asbestos Information Center, addressing public concerns about possible asbestos exposure and its health implications, providing guidance to officials, commercial companies and individuals handling asbestos waste removals, and gathering data on asbestos disease morbidity and mortality.  In 2000, AQLEN and its director were awarded the Award for Outstanding Community Voluntarism by the Minister of Environment, Ms. Dalia Itzik. 


We need more resources that will:


1.  Establish a public committee of experts, whose mission is to impact the government to hurry and provide a general solution to the problem of asbestos and the policy and means of actions to achieve it.  This committee will later monitor government activity.


2.  Allow prosecuting legal struggles, both by class action and claims, that will demand compensation by the parties involved in polluting the region who will address damages to the public and finance the treatment of contaminated lands and compensate the victims of asbestos by, for example, setting up clinics.


Our mission is for another 3 years. We hope that the last year's achievements will push for the finding of a long-term solution and that we shall be able to increase our efforts to bringing about a comprehensive solution to the problem.



Orit Reich

Founder and Director

AQLEN:  The Association for Environment and Quality of Life in Nahariya


[1] According to statistics published by the Israel Ministry of Health “Mesothelioma  Fatal Cancer Registration: [pub. 2002].”  Mesothelioma is a cancer caused by exposure to asbestos particles; it can remain dormant in the body for more than 30 years




"The association for Quality of Life and Environment in Nahariya il. (AQLEN)", address: P.O. 1019 Nahariya 221100, phone&fax: 972-4-9574449

: AQLEN@netvision.net.il   web: http://naen.timba.info/eng