Knesset Control C'tee to discuss earthquake readiness

Hearing comes after scathing comptroller’s report taking government to task for litany of failures.

By
February 6, 2012 04:45
2 minute read.
Aftermath of earthquake [file]

Aftermath of earthquake [file] 390. (photo credit: Thinkstock)

 
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The Knesset Control Committee is set to hold a hearing on Monday to discuss measures taken to prepare the country’s infrastructure for any future earthquakes.

The hearing comes after State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss submitted a scathing report to Knesset in March 2011, slamming the government for a litany of failures regarding its preparation for earthquakes.

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In that report, Lindenstrauss said that readying the country’s infrastructure for an earthquake of significant magnitude should be a “top national priority.”

Construction and Housing Minister Ariel Attias, whose ministry Lindenstrauss’s report criticized for failing to strengthen residential buildings in the North, is set to attend the meeting. Also expected to be present is Minister-without-Portfolio Benny Begin, who chairs the Ministerial Committee on Earthquake Preparedness.

Officials from the Environmental Protection Ministry will also attend, after Lindenstrauss’s report found that, despite prior warnings, the ministry had failed to implement its own recommendations regarding factories containing hazardous materials. In the case of an earthquake, leakage from such plants, especially in the Haifa Bay area, could cause serious damage to the public and the environment, the report said.

Representatives of the State Comptroller’s Office, the Treasury and the Interior, Defense, Health, Internal Security, Welfare and Social Services, Energy and Water ministries will also participate, as will officials from the Tel Aviv, Safed, Kiryat Shemona and Tiberias municipalities.

The hearing is expected to discuss progress made in implementing the recommendations Lindenstrauss made in his report, which the state comptroller dubbed “a red flag” waving before the Netanyahu government as he called on the prime minister and relevant ministers to take quick action in order to rectify their failures.

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Lindenstrauss also warned about ignoring state comptroller’s reports, pointing to the Carmel Forest fire as an example of what could happen if state comptroller recommendations went unheeded, describing the government’s failures as a potential “symptom of a system- wide flaw in decision-making and management on a national level.”

The report determined that it was up to the Interior Ministry to establish a professional agency to supervise the construction of public buildings in accordance with earthquake safety standards and urged Interior Minister Eli Yishai to take care of the matter immediately.

Lindenstrauss also noted that in the case of a severe earthquake, many of the hospitals around the country – and especially those in the North – may topple, but added that hospital emergency rooms that were fortified following the Second Lebanon War provided a partial solution to the problem.

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