Southern towns to Court: Stop power plant

Gazan rockets could trigger catastrophe if plant built, say Kiryat Malachi, Be’er Tuviya.

March 19, 2012 03:24
2 minute read.
Be’er Tuviya Council head stands where plant to be

Be’er Tuviya Council head stands where power plant to be 370. (photo credit: Be’er Tuviya Regional Council)

The Kiryat Malachi City Council and neighboring Moshav Be’er Tuviya filed a petition with the High Court of Justice on Sunday, asking the court to prevent a power station from being built in the area.

The petition argues that the gas-fired power station, planned to be constructed in the Be’er Tuviya industrial zone, could pose a serious danger to local residents because it is within firing range of the Gaza Strip.

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Ten Grad rockets were fired from Gaza into the region within the last week, say the petitioners.

The petition, which names nine respondents including the National Infrastructure Committee, the prime minister and the defense minister, asks that plans to build the power station be canceled.

Authorities in Kiryat Malachi and Be’er Tuviya have fought for years against plans to develop the gas-fired power station, and say they fear a disaster if a terrorist rocket from Gaza hits the power station, not least because of the additional danger of flammable materials stored in other factories in the Be’er Tuviya industrial area.

The potential for casualties and damage to property are “enormous,” say the petitioners.

“In a real act of dreaming, it was decided to advance gasfired power stations, which are potentially explosive and have a heavy environmental impact on an everyday basis, right in a region that is full of hazardous materials and that is exposed to rocket attacks from Gaza,” the petition says.

Be’er Tuviya Regional Council head Dror Shor said on Sunday that the power station must be stopped. “We hope the country will put an end to this ‘dream’ before a catastrophe happens here,” he said.

The petitioners also say that the project’s developers have never conducted a health survey about the power station’s impact, contrary to Health Ministry guidelines.

The location of the power plant had not been selected after a thorough review of alternatives, the petitioners contend, but “first and foremost due to proprietary rights of private entities, extensive funding, power and influence.” Planning for the power plant had gone ahead “despite residents’ protests and with a blind eye turned to the environmental and safety risks,” they added.

IPM Be’er Tuviya, the company behind the power plant plans, said in a statement that natural gas-fired plants “bring a blessing to the areas in which they are established and certainly do not create damage and/ or risk.”

The National Infrastructure Committee and its environmental consultants had determined criteria for the plant’s establishment, the company said, which comprised a comprehensive risk survey for scenarios including earthquakes, security, air quality, sewage and soil pollution.

“The plant location was approved by the planning authorities in 2009 after a comprehensive examination of alternative locations.

Alternatives proposed by the local authorities were examined carefully and found to be inappropriate, as noted in the report submitted to the planning and building committee,” the company added.

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