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דף הבית מי אנחנו ?מה קורה אסבסט שמירת חופים הגנת העץ מעורבות גן ירוק הצטרפות צרו קשר


Visit to Nahariya Israel , Professor Arthur Frank


            I had the privilege of visiting in Nahariya, Israel in late May 2005 for the purpose of assessing the impact of asbestos from the formerly operating asbestos plant in Nahariya on the population of the area.  I arrived in Nahariya on Wednesday May 25, 2005 and was there through Friday, May 27, 2005.

             On the evening of the 25th I met with Orit Reich and others and learned of the history of asbestos facility in Nahariya.  The asbestos factory, the largest in Israel, was established in the mid 1950s and had operated through the late 1990s.  The primary form of asbestos used was crocidolite (blue) asbestos imported from South Africa.  The plant was a major employer in the area, and was thought by the local population to be a fine place to work because of good wages and benefits.  Many people worked at this facility during it’s several decades of operation.

             On May 26th I was given a tour of the old factory site, the site that had been proposed for a children’s park, the beach area near the factory, and a tour through various areas of Nahariya where significant asbestos contamination had occurred.  It had been the practice of the facility to reduce it’s waste by distributing it at little or no cost to individuals in the area and through this disbursement of contaminated materials a significant area of the Western Galilee became contaminated by the use of these materials.  In addition, the asbestos containing products made at the plant were widely used in the area, and throughout Israel, exposing untold numbers of person to the hazards of asbestos.  There were many examples of clearly visible environmental contamination.

             On the afternoon of the 26th I had the privilege of giving a lecture on asbestos related disease at the Nahariya Hospital, and meeting with the medical staff.  In consultation with them I learned that there were approximately 40 cases per year of mesothelioma seen at the Nahariya Hospital, with an equal number seen at the nearest large medical center in Haifa.  This is in sharp contrast to the cases seen elsewhere at Israel, which are much less common, and also given the population base of the region and the number of cases, the rate of this disease is extraordinarily high.  I met with individuals who had family members who had developed the disease mesothelioma, and even met with a patient in the hospital who was in the terminal stages of a peritoneal mesothelioma.

             That evening I met with a large group of individuals to further discuss the hazards of asbestos and the potential difficulties faced by the community at large. 

             On the morning of the 27th I met with the Mayor of Nahariya, as well as interested citizens, at the town hall.  We discussed the difficulties facing the region and the potential hazards facing many individuals.  While certainly sympathetic, the Mayor was of the view that this was a larger problem than could be handled by the local municipality, and that it required additional assistance from the outside.

            As a follow up to these activities, on Monday May 30, 2005 I visited with an MK interested in the environmental situation in Nahariya and later in the day met with individuals at the Ministry of Environment to discuss the circumstances in Nahariya.   I offered my continuing assistance in this matter.

             It is clear that there is a significant ongoing health hazard due to the past activities at the asbestos plant.  Clearly, by the mid 1950s, when the plant opened, it was well appreciated throughout the world that there were significant hazards from asbestos, but nevertheless the factory operated in a way that not only exposed workers, but seriously contaminated large environmental areas by its business practices.  The current number of cases of mesothelioma in the region speak to the significant contamination among workers, but there has also been entirely environmental cases of mesothelioma found in the community with no employment at the factory and no familial contact through a worker.  Although the factory closed in the last  1990s, the legacy of past exposures will remain for many decades.

             Unfortunately, without some significant cleanup of the Nahariya area, which would include other locales where asbestos contaminated materials were spread on the ground, there is the expectation that there will be a continuing number of mesothelioma cases originating from such environmental exposures.  This will go on almost indefinitely unless something is done to clean up the massive environmental contamination that has occurred.  There is no question that this is a significant public health hazard.  The resources needed to deal with this go well beyond the medical care needed by those who suffer from asbestos related disease, and requires a massive cleanup of the environment in and around Nahariya.

             Steps that should be taken would include:

             1.         An educational campaign to notify people in the region that any continued use of asbestos          poses a serious health hazard.

             2.         Education about how to remove asbestos containing materials in a safe manner, with the             need to develop a waste depository that can properly store asbestos containing waste so           as not to cause additional problems in the future.

             3.         The development of a mesothelioma registry in this area, and given the small size of the   country, throughout Israel.

             4.         Massive involvement of governmental agencies at all levels to assist with a cleanup of the             contaminated region.

             It is my view that this serious public health hazard has gotten well out of control and is probably beyond the resources of the local government to deal with it entirely on it’s own.  There appears to be potential culpability of many with regard to this, starting with the plant itself, and those who have not enforced proper public health regulations and oversight that allowed for the massive distribution which ended up contaminating the environment of many inhabitants of the Western Galilee.  After an appropriate cleanup is made, the area of Nahariya can be rehabilitated and put to productive use, especially given its wonderful seaside local.  There is a good chance the area will be treated as an environmental pariah until such a cleanup occurs. 


                                                      Respectfully submitted:

                                                      Arthur L. Frank, MD, PhD

                                                      Professor of Public Health

                                                     Drexel University School of Public Health

                                                      Member, Collegium Ramazzin




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