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Al Mezan Center Calls for Quick Action to Prevent New Environmental Disaster Northern Gaza

10-12-2007 00:00

North Gaza district is nearing a new environmental disaster owing to problems with main sewage plant; especially as rainy winter is approaching.
The risk is expected to impact not only the population of the village of Umm An-Nasr, but also the 250,000 population of the district.
This problem has been standing for years now, as the work to build an alternative, modern treatment plant continues in the east of the district.
However, Israeli restrictions on movement prevented concluding the construction works thus far.
According to the monitoring by Al Mezan Center, the Palestinian authorities continue to implement temporary measures to face the possible risks.
Similar measures have only exacerbated the problem over the past years.
After the disaster that hit the village on 27 March 2007, the authorities started building a large basin in north of the village in order to increase the capacity of the plant to absorb sewage.
This was a necessary measure because the many old basins could not receive more sewage water; therefore pose the risk of new floods.
Official sources reported to Al Mezan that the Coast Water Facility plans to build another basin in the north of the village.
Other temporary solutions, such as supporting the embankments of basins with rubble, keep the fear of floods at any time possible.
The basins contain tens of millions of cubic meters of sewage water.
Collapses of small basins occurred in the past, causing floods that killed many people and destroyed dozens of houses.
They also threaten the population's life and health.
Recently, residents of Um An-Nasser village told Al Mezan that they noticed that a large amount of waste water disappeared from the largest basin near their village.
"No one knows for sure where this water went", said one resident.
It is believed that the waste water found its way the underground aquifer, which is the largest aquifer in the Gaza Strip.
If this guess is confirmed, the leak poses a threat to the main source of drinking water in the area, and could severely affect public health in north Gaza.
Al Mezan Center for Human Rights is gravely concerned by this situation, which causes the population to continue to live under inhumane conditions and violate their rights; particularly economic, social and cultural rights.
The Center denounces that this problem exacerbates day after day because of the failure of the local and Israeli authorities, and international organizations to accelerate the works of construction of an alternative treatment plant and a pipeline, which could transfer the sewage water far from the population and the aquifer.
This project has started a long time ago, but had to stop so many times because of the restrictions on the movement of technicians, equipment and materials necessary to finish it.
Therefore, Al Mezan warns the Palestinian authorities and the relevant international organizations about the consequences of inaction in the face of the risks that threaten the population.
These authorities have an obligation to act effectively and immediately to accelerate the construction works of the alternative treatment plant.
Otherwise, we will witness new health and environmental disasters in the near future.
Al Mezan also calls local and international health authorities to assess the impact of the leakage of wastewater to the aquifer and take the necessary measures to prevent the risks it poses on people's health.
AL Mezan calls on the international community to act urgently and effectively to exert pressure on Israel to stop its restrictions which impede ending the construction of the alternative plant.
These restrictions deny the access to the construction site and prevent the entry of materials and equipment indispensible to complete the project.

Tags / #Environment