Rejecting appeal, cabinet approves Be’er Tuviya power plant

Home Front Defense Minister Erdan's appeal not to erect controversial plant near potential Gaza rocket fire is rejected.

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June 30, 2013 21:00
2 minute read.
Be'er Tuvia residents protest gas plant.

Beer tuvia residents protest gas plant 370. (photo credit: Courtesy of Beer Tuvia regional campaign)

 
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Rejecting an appeal filed in May by Home Front Defense Minister Gilad Erdan, cabinet members reaffirmed their decision to erect a natural gas plant in the controversial Be’er Tuviya Industrial Zone on Sunday.

Residents from the Be’er Tuviya and Kiryat Malachi region have been actively fighting against the establishment of the power plant for years, arguing that the site’s ammonia containers and its proximity to Gaza pose a risk to residents should rocket fire occur. The plant in question is that of Israel Power Management 3000 (IPM) Be’er Tuviya, and received cabinet approval on May 5. While residents have accused the company of planning to hold 35 tons of gas there, IPM has stressed that only 500 kilograms will be one site – split into two containers. 

Erdan filed the appeal on May 18, noting that “on days in which the threat of missiles increases, the government must make every effort to reduce the risk to the population and distance strategic infrastructural facilities from the threat.”

The project first acquired Be’er Tuviya Regional Council support in May 2006, and then received a production license authorization in April 2007 and completed zoning procedures in February 2008. On November 30, 2012, the company presented its plans to the National Infrastructures Committee, as the project was deemed a national infrastructures project. Although the Southern District Committee for Planning and Building recommended that the project not receive government approval, the National Infrastructures approved the plan from their perspective in mid-February.

“Once again it has been proven that the residents of the periphery and their lives are not a consideration for policymakers in Jerusalem,” said Adva Dror, the head of the local activists.

The NIS 2 billion combined cycle steam and gas plant is slated to have a 428-megawatt capacity, approximately the size of Reading in Tel Aviv. Contradictory to the claims of both residents and Erdan and Transportation Minister Israel Katz who also objected to the Beer Tuvia plant, IPM has reiterated that the plant will be protected against harm according to the highest of safety standards and that there is no regional risk.

The only ministers in the cabinet to vote in favor of Erdan’s appeal were Erdan himself and Welfare and Social Affairs Minister MK Meir Cohen (Yesh Atid), the local activists said.

“We are very sorry about the decision to build a power plant in a busy industrial area of hazardous materials, with unprecedented proximity to a residential and commercial center, and this is without examining a better alternative for the station, and without properly checking the consequences that the station’s establishment is likely to cause on the residents’ lives and health,” said Dr. Etti Rosenblum, an attorney at the Sapir College legal clinic.

IPM has stressed that the gas plant received all necessary government approvals after being deemed safe by government professionals and an investigator hired by the state, who examined all objections voice toward the project’s establishment. Meanwhile, in April, Home Front Command officials said that the Be’er Tuviya plant was being built according to “the highest standards.”

Following Sunday’s decision, IPM executives praised the ministers for approving the plant.

“We are excited about the additional approval given by the government toward the establishment of the energy plant in Be’er Tuviya, together with the approval of the Ministerial Committee for Internal Affairs and Environment and the National Infrastructure Committee,” a statement from IPM said.

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