Israel is planning to shut a prominent industrial zone in the coastal city of Haifa, which has been hazardous for years, and turn it into an ecofriendly commercial and residential hub.
Israel’s plan is to shut down within a decade a number of factories, including the country’s largest oil refinery, that supply fuel products and petrochemicals used in materials like plastics and asphalt.
A ‘metropolitan park’ will be built in their place, with a focus on green businesses, tourism, residences, and nature.
The move, which has arose union opposition over potential job losses, was recommended on Monday by a cross-ministerial panel for government approval. The new government to be sworn in next week has already said it intends to remove the factories.
To meet its energy needs Israel will rely more heavily on imports of refined petroleum products and will need to bolster storage of vital industrial materials. The environmental protection minister welcomed the move, saying it was “serious news for the health of residents and the future of Haifa.”
The labor union at Oil Refineries, Israel’s largest refining and petrochemicals group that sits on 526 acres in the bay area, has refused the proposal. It says the company’s business is vital to the economy and has promised to use “all tools at its disposal” to ensure its workers’ future.