Kiryat Malachi building hit by rocket 370.
(photo credit: Ben Hartman)
After 15 rockets pounded an area slated for natural gas infrastructure
construction during last week’s conflict, the residents of Kiryat Malachi and
Be’er Tuviya are bolstering their campaign against the site’s planned
Residents of the region collectively sent a letter on Sunday to
the ministers of defense, interior and public security, as well as to the prime
minister, demanding that the government work to immediately change the location
of the natural gas facility planned to be in their midst.
Operation Pillar of Defense, more than 15 rockets landed in the area designated
to hold the natural gas facility, with six buildings located in a 300-meter
radius of the site receiving direct hits, according to the residents.
natural gas plant is supposed to contain 35 tons of natural gas and 9,000 cubic
meters of diesel, as well as pipes leading to the facility that will at any
given moment be carrying up to an addition 170 tons of gas, the residents said.
This amount, they argued, is equivalent to 4,100 tons of TNT explosive
Residents have been protesting the location of the plant for
several years, and in June, hundreds protested in front of a National Committee
for Planning and Building meeting after it officially approved plans for the new
regional power plant.
Previously, during a barrage of rockets that had
plagued the area in March, Be’er Tuviya residents sent a petition to the High
Court of Justice detailing their campaign. The project to build a 400-megawatt
power plant was first promoted six years ago by Shikun V’Binui through its
former subsidiary IPM Be’er Tuviya. However, due to public protest, Shikun
V’Binui eventually backed out and sold IPM Be’er Tuviya to Triple-M Power Plants
Ltd., according to the Be’er Tuviya Regional Council.
repeatedly ensured that proper environmental protection measures will be
undertaken when constructing the plant, and the plant will conform to the
highest possible safety standards.
In a report submitted prior to
government officials prior to Operation Pillar of Defense, researchers found
that a grad rocket falling in the area could crack the gas pipes and create “an
explosive gas cloud with incalculable damage.”
The report, prepared by
Dr. Yisrael Barzilai, a former director of hazardous materials at the
Environmental Protection Ministry, stressed that the establishment of a natural
gas facility in this location would bring unnecessary risk to a populated
industrial area already filled with hazardous materials.
the latest protest against the facility, Asaf Vitman, CEO of IPM Be’er Tuviya,
stressed that the plant is being built in accordance with the laws and policies
of the Israeli government.
“To improve the environment and reduce
electricity costs in Israel, energy plants based on natural gas have been
established all over the country, in the center of Tel Aviv, Ashdod and Haifa,
among others,” Vitman said. “In all of these areas rockets fell and tried
to hurt Israel and its citizens.”
The Be’er Tuviya plant will comply with
the strictest of European standards, and both safety and environmental surveys
have already been conducted by experts who deemed the future facility safe,
according to Vitman.
During last week’s conflict, a house located less
than 40 meters from the planned gas pipeline was destroyed by a grad rocket, and
another rocket fell on a logistics buildings situated just about the same
distance from the site slated for gas facility construction, the residents
“One can only imagine the intensity of the damage and the loss
of life if instead of a home the grad had struck a gas facility,” the residents
said in a statement.
Particular dangers would plague the thousands of
people who visit the Big Shopping Center adjacent to the planned plant, as well
as the seven ammonia storage facilities located in the area, the nearby vehicle
fueling stations and the Central Bus Station – through which tens of thousands
of people pass every day, according to the residents.
inconceivable that the Israeli government is investing hundreds of millions in
the protection of Israel’s residents by producing and situating Iron Dome
systems, but abandons the lives of 50,000 residents and exposes them to danger
by approving the establishment of a natural gas plant in order to appease the
private interests of wealthy individuals,” said Adva Dror, director of the
“These days illustrate, unfortunately, what we the
residents have been shouting about for already four years – that the
establishment of a facility in this place is an inconceivable scandal, which is
liable to end in incalculable disaster.”