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Photo by: Courtesy Be’er Tuviya Regional Council
Be'er Tuviya residents question financial state of gas plant project
By SHARON UDASIN
04/28/2014
Residents have long protested the establishment of a natural gas power facility in their industrial zone.
 
In an ongoing struggle against the construction of a gas power plant in their midst, Be’er Tuviya region residents are calling upon government authorities to investigate claims of financial difficulties about the developers.

Residents of the Be’er Tuviya and Kiryat Malachi areas have long been protesting the establishment of a natural gas power facility in their industrial zone, where they argue that existing ammonia tanks and proximity to Gazan rocket fire could pose a risk to the region. The plans received government approval on May 5, 2013, and the cabinet rejected an appeal filed by Home Front Defense Minister Gilad Erdan in June of that year. Israel Power Management 3000 (IPM) plans to install two gas tanks with a total capacity of 500 kilograms at the site.

Earlier this month, the residents sent a letter to the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) requesting an investigation of potential financial difficulties surrounding the project, the residents announced on Sunday.

In addition, they recently asked the High Court of Justice to postpone a May 8 hearing of their petition against the government to allow them more time to collect necessary materials.

Triple-M, the controlling shareholder of IPM, has been encountering severe financial difficulties and has therefore been negotiating with various parties to sell a 30-percent stake of the company, the residents claim. Among the investors explored have been a Turkish company and Israeli- Georgian billionaire Mikhael Mirilashvili, the residents added, accusing Mirilashvili of a criminal past and questioning the sources of his wealth.

In their letter to the Shin Bet, the residents stressed that because the security agency often examines the potential buyers of national infrastructure facilities, it should also do so regarding these plans.

“There is no need to elaborate on the danger that there is to national security by a foreign takeover of a company in general, and particularly by one of Turkish origin, or of a body whose background is uncertain and often even includes criminal involvement, in Israel’s energy sector,” the residents wrote.

In their petition to the High Court, the residents conveyed similar concerns regarding the uncertainty of the investors.

Meanwhile, they also questioned an October 2013 decision of the Public Utility Authority to replace the company’s license to build a closed circuit gas facility with a license to build a conventional facility, despite the fact that all of the assessment materials submitted to government authorities have involved a closed circuit system.

Responding to the latest appeals of the residents, a statement from IPM said, "The energy production plant that will be established received all the necessary permits from the state and was approved through the most comprehensive and in-depth review process ever made for a plant of this kind in Israel."
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