Thousands in Tel Aviv protest location of planned Israeli gas platform

Protesters argued that the proposed location, will destroy the sea as well as irrevocably damage the health of Israelis living near the coast.

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September 1, 2018 19:05
3 minute read.
Thousands in Tel Aviv protest location of planned Israeli gas platform

Protesters in Rabin square calling to halt gas production off the coast of Israel. . (photo credit: LIRIT KLEIN)

Thousands of Israelis gathered in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv on Saturday evening to protest the planned location of the gas processing platform serving the Leviathan gas reservoir only nine kilometers off the coast of Israel.

Headed by the volunteer group Shomri HaBait (Home Guards), protesters argued that the proposed location, will destroy the sea as well as irrevocably damage the health of Israelis living near the coast. A major concern is the unavoidable production of benzene in the energy production process, which is a known carcinogen.  

Tel Aviv, Haifa, Herzliya, and other Israeli communities such as Kibbutz Ma'agan Michael and Moshav Beit Tanai are located along the coast of Israel. According to the protesters, millions of Israelis might be affected.

Protesters in Rabin aquare with a sign that says "Do not posion us!" shaped like a whale, it refers to the gas field Leviathan / LIRIT KLEIN

In similar projects around the world, Shomri HaBait argued, such oil platforms are located around 120 kilometers off the coast. They further emphasized that it makes little sense to place the platforms so close to the shore when the gas reservoir itself is placed 130 kilometers off the shore.

By placing the platform directly above the reservoir, the entire production process would be simpler and cleaner. There would be no need to add antifreeze material to move the gas further from the production site, toxic byproducts would be poured back  into the reservoir and not dumped into the sea near the shore, and in the case of a malfunction, the damage caused to marine life and those living across the coast would be less intensive.

In addition, Shomri HaBait pointed to the lack of experience Israel has in such projects as well as to the pollution caused by the existing gas processing platform Tamar, which produces 30 times more toxic materials than originally predicted.

They also claimed that Houston-based Noble Energy, which will operate the platform, has a terrible track record of causing pollution.

High school students who attended the protests stated that they were intending to miss school and create a human chain across the coast of Israel on Sunday in protest of the planned platform.

Israeli reporter Nehamia Shtresler, known for his liberal views, slammed Shomri HaBait and those who supported them, labeling them as people who have "blue blood" because they're from communities who don't wish to see the gas processing platform "spoiling their sunsets."

He also claimed that the Supreme Court as well as leading environmental protection groups in Israel are not opposed to the current conditions of the Leviathan project.

In response to an inquiry by The Jerusalem Post, Adi Bager, a spokesperson from Leviathan Partners said that "The establishment of the platform will begin in the next few months precisely at the time the government decided on with the recommendation of Israeli security, and as approved by all relevant planning, regulatory, and legal organizations."

"On the contrary to the campaign of organized intimidation, the platform will not contaminate the air and the water. There is complete consensus about this among all the experts including the environmental organizations."

"The Leviathan project is not a problem but a solution. It will enable Israel to free itself from the use of coal which causes pollution and harms the health of Israeli citizens."

Tamar Petroleum announced on Sunday that following a 15% increase in the value of its stock it will deliver a dividend of 145 million NIS among shareholders.

Established in 2017, Tamar Petroleum holds the rights to the Tamar gas field which is located around 80 kilometers west of Haifa.


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