Despite the objections of local residents, the National Council for Planning and
Building approved on Monday evening the establishment of a natural gas power
plant in Be’er Tuviya, near Kiryat Malachi.
“The National Council for
Planning and Building heard the objections and decided to approve the station on
conditions whose goals are to maintain safety at the plant and in the gas
pipeline leading to it,” the Interior Ministry said.
For several years,
Be’er Tuviya and Kiryat Malachi area residents have been protesting the
construction of the plant, which is slated to hold 35 tons of natural gas, 9,000
cubic meters of diesel, and pipes carrying up to an additional 170 tons of gas
in the Be’er Tuviya Industrial Zone.
When a barrage of Gazan rockets
slammed into the area last March, the residents submitted a petition to the High
Court of Justice.
After Operation Pillar of Defense in November, when
residents said that more than 15 rockets hit the site, they called upon several
government ministries to immediately relocate the planned facility. At the end
of December, the Southern District Committee for Planning and Building likewise
recommended that the project not proceed.
Erecting the natural gas plant
will be IPM Be’er Tuviya, a former subsidiary of Shikun V’Binui (Housing &
Construction Holding Company Limited) that was eventually sold to Triple-M Power
On Tuesday, the residents of Kiryat Malachi and the Be’er
Tuviya Local Council said they were “stunned” by the National Council’s choice
to move forward with the plan, despite the widespread opposition of regional and
municipal bodies, the Movement for Quality Government and Environmental
Protection Minister Gilad Erdan.
Meanwhile, the findings of a report
generated by American risk evaluation firm Gex- Con have likewise deemed the
area unfit for a natural gas plant. Additionally problematic is the prospective
power plant’s location next to a 70- ton ammonia facility, according to the
Adva Dror, chairwoman of the residents’ campaign, said that
the National Council’s decision was “a disaster that we cannot
Noting that the residents only learned about the decision
through the media, Dror slammed the National Council for its “blatant disregard”
for the community.
“The residents will do whatever it takes to prevent
this disaster,” Dror said. “We are confident that sympathetic listeners will be
found both in the court and among new Knesset members and government ministers,
first and foremost whoever is chosen as the interior minister – who of course
cannot begin to start granting approval to plans that endanger the lives of
Dr. Esti Rosenblum and attorney Merav Meyron Goren, from the
clinic for local governance, planning and environment at Sapir Academic
College’s law school, said the plan to establish a natural gas plant at the site
was injurious to social justice. The project, they said, was “an example of the
preference of economic interests of developers over the basic rights of
residents to life, health and environment.”
The power station would be at
the expense of Kiryat Malachi and surrounding residents, while the electricity
generated from it would mostly head to residents of central Israel, they
Bilha Givon, founder and director of the Sustainable Negev
organization, accused the National Council of demonstrating prejudice against
residents of the southern periphery, and approving a plan in the Be’er Tuviya
Industrial Zone that the government would never authorize in the densely
The developers at IPM welcomed the National Council for
Planning and Building’s decision to approve the gas plant’s construction,
stressing that this project would join other power plants around the country in
making a significant contribution to Israel’s energy security.