Rishon Letzion is waging war on trash sites that handle construction waste without a permit, but site operators say the municipality is fighting dirty.
The local magistrate’s court has authorized a new method being used by the municipality: In the past, it encountered difficulties trying to close the waste sites using administrative measures, so it began fining truck drivers who delivered waste to the sites. Over the last month, the court rejected two appeals by site operators to instruct the municipality to desist from these measures.
Across the city, south of Tel Aviv, there are several sites that treat construction waste – all of them operating without a business permit. This reflects a nationwide phenomenon. These sites cause heavy environmental damage and threaten the viability of authorized waste disposal sites.
The municipality has tried to counter the problem using several methods, such as administrative stop-work injunctions. One site operator, Shai Edri, appealed to the magistrate’s court last year, claiming the injunction was an irregular procedure and the municipality should instead file charges in court. The court agreed, declaring that any action to close the site should be based on laws regulating business permits.
Edri turned to the court again a few months ago, arguing that the municipality was in contempt of court for the way it was acting against his site. He claimed he was being singled out and that council inspectors were handing out citations to truck drivers bringing waste to his site, rather than acting on earlier court orders.
The municipality responded that its duty was to act against anyone disposing of waste without a permit. It argued that truck drivers also needed a business permit, which includes a provision that they use only authorized disposal sites. Since there is no such location in Rishon, bringing waste to Edri’s site was a violation of the law. The municipality added that its measures have been proportionate, and that so far only warnings have been issued.
Edri replied that his site is only a way station, from which waste is taken to authorized locations. He added that the municipality gave its consent to this mode of operation in 2013.
Judge Shimon Stein rejected Edri’s arguments, noting that even if he did receive such consent, it was only for one year. The law stipulates that waste can only be taken to authorized sites. Even if the court had disqualified the stop-work injunction, this did not allow him to continue operating without appropriate permits.
The court ruled on a similar case last month, where the municipality was issuing warnings to truck drivers en route to a different waste site. There, too, the site operators asked the court to stop the municipality, but the court refused to do so. However, it agreed to wait two weeks so the site’s operators could turn to the local district court, in its capacity as a court for procedural issues.
Action against drivers who transport waste illegally is one of the key methods being used by the Environmental Protection Ministry. The ministry operates parking lots to hold trucks that have been impounded by the so-called “Green Police,” after being caught carrying construction waste without a permit. The long-term impounding of these trucks causes great financial damage to the drivers; the ministry therefore views it as a successful deterrent against the continued violation of the law.