The major gas companies top the list of publicly traded Israeli businesses that haven’t met their environmental obligations, according to rankings published Monday by the Environmental Protection Ministry.
Some of these companies actively caused pollution, while others failed to report information that is necessary to prevent pollution.
The ratings, published this year for the second time, are based on an examination of 61 companies’ behavior in 2010-12.
Topping the list of violators was the Azrieli Group, which owns the Sonol gas company. Gas companies are required to check whether their fuel containers are hermetically sealed, but Sonol failed to give the ministry test results for almost two-thirds of its gas stations. Without this information, the ministry can’t know whether these stations are at risk of polluting the land or groundwater.
In second place on the blacklist was the energy company Dor Alon. Its high negative rating was mainly due to pollution caused by one of its gas stations near the town of Ein Hacarmel.
The next few places on the list were also filled by gas and energy companies, including the Oil Refineries in Haifa (sixth place ). The latter was guilty of excessive air pollution, the ministry said, and also didn’t properly treat the sludge created as a by-product of the refining process.
One of the most surprising companies in the top 10 was Hadera Paper – whose business is the, ostensibly, environmentally friendly one of recycling paper. Its high placement was mainly to due a breakdown at its wastewater treatment plant that polluted a nearby river, but has since been fixed. Last year, Hadera Paper was actually rated one of the 10 best companies on the ministry’s list, even though the breakdown occurred more than a year ago. The ministry said the drastic drop in its ranking stems in part from a change in the way the rankings are computed.
The rankings are weighted such that actual pollution constitutes a bigger black mark than violations such as failing to file the requisite reports.
Alongside the major violators, there were also some companies that received no black marks at all. These included Electra, Ormat and several plastics manufacturers.
Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz said the rankings were important because they “affect the companies’ public image. It’s important for investors and shareholders to know each company’s environmental situation, and to take this into account when they make investment decisions.”
The Manufacturers Association said the ratings “do an injustice to industry’s efforts to engage in proper environmental conduct, and it’s no accident that there’s nothing like them in [other] developed countries.”
The association said the methodology is “problematic, since it doesn’t distinguish between different types of industry,” and creates a “negative incentive for appropriate environmental behavior,” because companies that report problems honestly will get a lower rating than those who don’t.