NIS 11 million to remove asbestos roofs in Israel

Science and Health

The Ministry of Environmental Protection’s cleaning fund has approved the allocation of NIS 11 million to encourage the removal of asbestos cement roofs and the installation of solar panels on the roofs, as well as NIS 1 million to operate a “home contractor” to evacuate and clean asbestos hazards for the people of low socio-economical class and for emergencies.

Environmental Protection Minister Gila Gamliel said in light of the announcement that “Our new program is Win-Win, in which we replace the carcinogenic asbestos with renewable energy with environmental and economic gain.” 
According to the ministry’s estimates, there are currently about 85 million square meters of asbestos cement throughout the country – most of which are applied as roofs in private homes, public buildings, agricultural buildings, industrial buildings and in IDF bases. Many of the roofs were built from 1960 to 1980 and have been worn with time, weather damaged, mechanically broken and crushed naturally or by negligent and illegal dismantling.
Today, about 1.3 million square meters of asbestos cement are disposed of in an orderly manner. However, the removal of asbestos is done without any incentive, especially when renovating old buildings and for the installation of solar electricity, which requires the asbestos’s removal.
Through inspection it was found that the barriers to installing a solar panel in a building with an asbestos roof are mainly bureaucratic – and thus the procedure for removing asbestos legally also constitutes an obstacle for the owner of the roof. In addition, awareness of the viability of solar electricity was found to be low.
Therefore, the Environmental Protection Ministry has decided to issue a bid to “Asbest2PV Agents” – consulting and marketing companies, who will be selected in a competitive tender and provide a nationwide service to raise awareness of the national, global and personal benefits of switching from asbestos to solar (photovoltaic – PV).
The additional NIS 1 million budget was allocated for the “Home Contractor” service. This service offers a contractor employed by the Ministry of Environmental Protection who evacuates and cleans sites where there are asbestos hazards in lower socio-economic classes and in emergency cases.

An asbestos hazard is a condition in which there is a risk of the public being exposed to dust containing asbestos fibers as a result of asbestos cement burning situations, the collapse of a structure containing parts of an asbestos structure, or in places where there is an accumulation of asbestos waste exposed to air. 
By law, the property owner is obliged to evacuate the asbestos hazard, but in properties owned by persons who are unable to finance the removal of the hazard, the office contractor is called to remove the hazard, after compliance with the criteria set by the ministry in a designated procedure.
Contractor services include immediate operations at an asbestos hazard site, removal of asbestos hazard (removal of asbestos to a landfill site by the Ministry) and removal of hazard in an emergency (asbestos hazard removal, may be extensive).