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Cablegate: Israeli Ministry of Environment Wants to Work With

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 TEL AVIV 006550

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR NEA/REA, NEA/IPA, AND OES/PCI
DEPT PASS AID FOR ANE/WILSON AND EGAT/OBRIEN
EPA FOR INTERNATIONAL/FIDLER AND MEDEARIS
USDA FOR FAS/ICD/RSED SYLVANA LI
USDOC FOR 4520/MAC/ANESA/HVINEYARD
USDOC FOR 4521/MAC/ANESA/CLOUSTANAU/NWIEGLER
USDOC FOR 3131/USFCS/OIO/ANESA/DHARRIS/GLITMAN

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SENV TBIO KSCA EIND PGOV PREL IS ENVIRONMENT SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY ISRAEL RELATIONS
SUBJECT: ISRAELI MINISTRY OF ENVIRONMENT WANTS TO WORK WITH
U.S. EPA

REF: TEL AVIV 5567

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED - PROTECT ACCORDINGLY.

1. (SBU) Summary: Israeli Ministry of Environment officials
hope to work closely with the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency to make progress on some of Israel's most challenging
environment problems. Those include: asbestos and
hazardous waste cleanups, emergency preparedness, water
security, and coastal management. MoE is prepared to
discuss funding arrangements with EPA. Israel has new
legislation on coastal management and the handling of
biosolids. End summary.

2. (SBU) NEA Senior S&T Advisor Charles Lawson, accompanied
by ESTH Officer, met December 6 with MoE Director General
Miki Haran, Senior Deputy DG for Policy and Planning Valerie
Brachya, and International Relations Director Ori Livne.
Those officials stated that they would like to draw on the
EPA's experience and expertise to help address some of
Israel's toughest environmental problems.

3. (SBU) The MoE officials identified the following areas
for potential cooperation with the EPA:

-- Asbestos Cleanups: Israel is facing both "tear-downs and
tear-outs," is looking to "train trainers," and could use
assistance in certifying asbestos inspectors.

-- Emergency Preparedness and First Responder Planning and
Training: MoE has made a lot of progress on responding to
hazardous substances incidents, including marine-related
incidents, but would welcome the opportunity to compare
experiences with the EPA.

-- Hazardous Waste Handling: The cleanup effort at the
Ramat Hovav hazardous waste disposal site in the Negev is
proceeding, but there is much more to be done. The effort
generates its own cash flow as companies looking to dispose
of hazardous wastes are charged according to a set fee
structure. Related international tenders will be made
public "soon."

-- Water Security: The MoE is interested in comparing
experiences with EPA on water supply security and other
homeland security areas in which the EPA has involvement.

-- Coastal Management: MoE officials are interested in U.S.
policymaking related to coastal erosion.

4. (SBU) The MoE officials noted that Israel is moving
forward to implement new legislation to protect the
environment, including a coastal management law and another
on the handling of biosolids. The latter will go into
effect over the next two years, under the guidance of a
committee with representatives from the Water Commission and
the Ministries of Health, Agriculture, and Environment. One
aim will be to treat all water to a minimum level
appropriate for agricultural use. Higher treatment
standards will add a few cents per cubic meter to the cost
of water. The GOI is moving towards decisions on new
treatment standards, including for removal of salt and brine
at the water source. On coastal management, a key concern
is erosion due to decreases in the amount of sand carried up
the coast by prevailing currents.

5. (SBU) Comment: As DG Haran noted, environmental
consciousness is becoming more popular, both among the
public and politicians. The Knesset Environmental Caucus is
now a strong group, with multi-party representation, she
said. MoE staff "used to be seen as extremists," but are
now in the middle. Green groups are learning they can get
more traction by linking environmental and social issues,
e.g. public use of open spaces. In this period of new
momentum to protect the environment, MoE is eager to take
advantage of EPA's deep experience with the tough cleanup
challenges Israel is facing. International Relations
Director Livne said that the Ministry could make funding
available to support work by EPA to help Israel solve key
environmental problems like asbestos and hazardous waste
cleanups, including by drawing from waste-handling fees
charged to firms for the disposition of hazardous wastes.
Livne commented that in some areas, especially hazardous
waste disposal, "Israel definitely needs help and can't do
it alone."

KURTZER

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