Wednesday, September 15, 2010
A Day in Court
I spent yesterday in the Ramle Court giving expert witness in the State of Israel vs the Potato Peeling Factory case. The State claimed that the factory was a risk to the public and demanded to close it. I destroyed its claim, since it was not based on any objective scientific lab data. Normally, these cases are based on years of sampling and lab results showing that the factory emits noise, fumes, cancerigenous chemicals, sewage, etc. forbidden by any of the numberless regulations. In this case, the State failed to collect any physical evidence, did no sampling nor lab analysis, but anecdotes of conversations with the neighbors.
Second, I described the improvements planned and already done in the factory. They had installed new Belgian peeling machines that used much less water, a modern screw dewatering machine that separated the solids from the wastewater (see pic) and a 10,000 liter FOG interceptor. Moreover, today there was no direct free-flow connection to the municipal sewage network, the treated wastewater was pumped into the municipal network (that is, there could be no gravity flow).
The State of Israel attorney interrogated me about half an hour about the pump - trying to demonstrate that a system that was based on an electromechanical device was unreliable and a endangered public infrastructure. In reality, if there is no electricity or the pump stops working, the sewage is not pumped and not a drop can reach the municipal pipe. It is like a pump draining an underground level, if the pump fails, the water floods the floor but cannot escape to the street level drain. The judge, a 30 something cougar, did not seem to understand the concept, and the interrogator reformulated the issue to hammer in that the "criminal" factory owner could easily interrupt the pumping at will, saving electricity or out of sheer malice. I hope I made clear that no one would voluntarily flood its own factory and that anyway, the water would NOT reach the street.
In the end, the State submitted many documents showing that the factory had paid its taxes late and other old correspondence demonstrating his historic lack of credibility. One damning letter was from a fellow engineer, who wrote the municipality that the drawings he had submitted in the name of the factory were invalid and he retires his signature. These kind of standard letters are sent when the Client fails to pay or there is a conflict between the Client and the engineer, but in this case, the tone was venomous and ugly, more so when read by a malignant attorney in front of a fellow cougar.
The sentence will be published after the Succot holidays. The Client promised to pay me before Yom Kippur, and being a religious Jew (and me, an idiot), I believed it.