Joint List MK Dov Khenin (Hadash) called upon the Knesset State Control Committee to subpoena Prime Minister Benjamim Netanyahu, after his office intervened last week to prevent the closure of the privatized Carmel Olefins factory in Haifa Bay owned by the Ofer group. Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav issued an administrative order on Wednesday, November 2, to shut down operations at the facility of the Israel Oil Refineries group, following a series of malfunctions in recent weeks at the plant. Later that day, the chief of staff of the Prime Minister’s Office, Yoav Horowitz reportedly called Mayor Yahav requesting that the latter revoke the order, citing “security risks to Israel.” Although Yahav did not agree to the request, the Haifa Local Affairs Court decided the following day to delay the closure until further discussion.
“With great concern I read of the phone call between the mayor of Haifa and the Prime Minister Office’s chief of staff, who sought to avoid the temporary closure of a plant that has time and time again broken the law, pollutes the environment and maintains illegal activity that is both harmful and dangerous,” Khenin said on Monday, November 7, and, he continued, “the excuse is security… Something has gone really wrong here. To endanger peoples’ lives, this is good for security, but closing a plant – which has no connection to security – endangers the security of the state?”
The most recent mishap to occur at the Carmel Olefins factory took place on October 20, during which a malfunction in production equipment caused the petrochemical company’s emergency torch to turn on. The torch is designed to remove excess gases emitted as a result of such glitches, emergencies or termination of manufacturing activities, according to the Environmental Protection Ministry. Just two days prior to the October 20th incident, the ministry had summoned the CEO of the Oil Refineries group to a hearing, as a result of additional failures that had recently occurred at the Carmel Olefins factory. These malfunctions included a discharge of 35 tons of leaked gases on October 7, faulty smokestacks on October 6 and another gas leak on September 7.