Freshwater river turns blood-red

Freshwater river turns blood-red

The Holy Land was shocked last week when a West Bank river ran blood-red in an incident many are likening to a biblical plague.

The Yad Hanna stream, which leads to Israel’s Alexander River and, eventually, the Mediterranean Sea, was churning with blood, feathers and other chicken parts caused by “one or more Palestinian slaughterhouses in the northern West Bank city of Tulkarem,”



according to the Times of Israel .
Local officials add, however, that poultry processing plants across the border may not be the sole culprit.


The Times reports that the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel had posted a video clip of the bloody water, asking environmental protection minister Ze’ev Elkin to investigate.


This is reportedly one of many similar events that “highlights the difficulties of maintaining cross-boundary pollution control,” the Times writes.


The demand for chicken spikes annually in April during which both Ramadan and Passover are celebrated, and the slaughterhouses in Tulkarem are notable suppliers in the region.


Alon Heyman, director general of the Emek Hefer Economic Development Corporation, which operates a wastewater treatment plant on the Yad Hanna, says that their sluice gates are part of the problem.

 The devices, which are meant to capture chicken limbs and other detritus after passing the Palestinian border, can get clogged. If not properly managed, the polluted water simply flows over the mound of livestock waste matter and other garbage.



“We have a sensor to tell us if the water has risen over the gates, but by then, it’s already too late,” Heyman tells the Times. “We try to remove whatever we can as fast as we can.”
However, experts say that recent heavy rain has caused the aging infrastructure of their water purification systems to become overwhelmed.


“It’s only when we scream that anyone does anything,” says Dr. Ran Farhi, professional coordinator at the Sharon Drainage and Rivers Authority. “Nobody’s coordinating things from our side.”
He adds that this is a “24/7” issue, but it’s only every holiday season that it gets attention.
“When the flow is gentle, Yad Hanna’s centrifuges can deal with it,” Farhi explains, “but when it’s stronger, when there’s torrential rain and flooding, it goes over the dam and into the river.”
“That’s before mentioning other refuse — from animal corpses to bits of cars — that end up in valleys on the Palestinian side and eventually fall into the streams,” he adds.
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