Hadash MK Dov Khenin (Joint List), Chairman of the Knesset Public Health Lobby, has charged the management of the privatized company Israel Chemicals (ICL) with concealing data from the Knesset about the incidence of cancer among employees at its Rotem-Amfert plant in the Negev.
Khenin issued an urgent query on the matter in the Knesset indicating that, back in June 2015, ICL was asked to provide data about the cancer sufferers among its employees at its Rotem-Amfert factory, but the company’s management has still not responded, even after repeated requests from the Knesset’s Labor, Welfare and Health Committee. Khenin maintains that he was told at a meeting that the “data is confidential” and is not even available to the Ministry of Health. Khenin said, “We are talking about entirely inappropriate behavior; it is totally acceptable that, even for the ministry responsible for the health of the citizens of Israel, there should be ‘dark corners’ where it does not know what’s going on.”
Khenin told the Knesset plenum on Wednesday, February 10, that there is a major threat to the health of 55,000 persons, Jews and Arabs, in the areas around the Negev city of Arad due to the Rotem-Amfert phosphate plant that was constructed in the vicinity. “So,” the MK commented ironically, “the figures about those ill with cancer among workers following exposure to phosphates are not really all that important [?!].” Khenin noted that, in the US, the incidence of cancer among phosphate plant workers is 2.5 higher than that of the general population. Therefore, he insists, the fact that ICL refuses to provide answers to the Knesset committee, despite repeated requests, raises many questions. “It’s not possible to claim that phosphate plants do not impair the health of those in its vicinity,” insisted Knenin, “without supplying even minimal data.”