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Energy Ministry to buy $20m. vessel for sea research
By SHARON UDASIN
01/06/2014
IEC performs marine oil spill drill; 20 researchers and staff members can work and sleep on the vessel for up to 14 days.
 
The Energy, Water and National Infrastructures Ministry will be buying the NIS 20 million Bat Galim from the Defense Ministry in order to conduct marine research projects, the ministry announced on Sunday.

“The acquisition of the new research vessel is critical for the purposes of performing marine research and understanding the marine environment of the Mediterranean Sea,” said Energy, Water and National Infrastructures Minister Silvan Shalom.

The ship, which will be used by numerous governmental agencies, research institutions and the IDF, will gather information about changes in the sea and about the natural gas exploration and production taking place in the Mediterranean, the ministry said. In addition, it will promote multidisciplinary research, monitor and map Israel’s exclusive economic zone, track the impact of marine infrastructure on the environment and evaluate potential ecological damage.

The vessel can accommodate about 20 researchers and crew members, and can remain at sea for about two weeks, the ministry said. It is equipped to perform research at depths of up to 3,000 meters and can carry laboratories and containers. In emergency situations, it will also serve as a backup platform for the Defense Ministry and Israel Navy.

Primarily, Bat Galim will be operated by the non-profit governmental corporation Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research, which also serves the Environmental Protection Ministry, the Science and Technology Ministry, research institutes and other bodies. It will also enable research conducted in conjunction with international institutes; payment by foreign entities will cover the costs of ship use, the ministry said.

“The investment of the Energy, Water and National Infrastructures Ministry in the boat will improve marine and environmental research in the region and assist in the gathering of updated and reliable information,” Shalom said.

“Thanks to the advanced equipment installed on the vessel, it will serve as a body for mapping, research and security in working with scientific tools and technologies in the Mediterranean.”

Also in the field of marine-environment protection, the Israel Electric Corporation on Thursday performed an emergency drill for handling potential Mediterranean contamination incidents at its Orot Rabin power plant in Hadera. For the first time, emergency team members practiced using modern equipment and performing exercises related to handling a fuel leak – in this scenario, a two-ton leak into the sea.

During the exercise the IEC enacted emergency procedures and immediately alerted the Environmental Protection Ministry, its own emergency teams and those of the Hadera port, the company said. Emergency crews were dispatched with new equipment and diving teams with the aim of obstructing the spread of contaminants and pumping leaked fuel into a container, the IEC said.
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