The government must situate any future natural gas export facility a significant distance away from civilian activity, the Environmental Protection Ministry announced on Wednesday night.After conducting initial tests, the ministry determined that a minimum of several kilometers must stand between a gas export plant and the Israeli population, a statement from the office said. In order to reach this conclusion, ministry officials took a comprehensive look at similar such facilities all around the world, particularly focusing on those in Belgium, Australia, Indonesia and Italy, which contain vast quantities of flammable natural gas, according to the ministry.For comparison’s sake, although not a natural gas export facility, the new liquefied natural gas absorption buoy currently being constructed off the coast of Hadera is about 5 kilometers away from any public activity, the statement said.If a natural gas export facility was to crop up on a beach, it would require about 100 hectares of land. In Eilat, the Eilat Ashkelon Pipeline Company has proposed company owned land as a possible construction site for the facility; however, this piece of land is only about 600 meters from residences, according to the ministry. In addition, the establishment of the facility on the beach would deny the public access to the resources of the sea, as well as damage urban development and tourist infrastructure, the ministry statement argued.The amount of accessible beach in the Eilat area is already shrinking, and each citizen only can claim the equivalent of about 2 centimeters of beach, the statement said.The ministry acknowledged, however, that its tests thus far were only preliminary, and that professional bodies within the ministry would soon be conducting further evaluations. Before the government selects a location, the ministry said it will require an investigation of all implications of natural gas exports and will not allow the establishment of a facility that causes any danger to the local population.A committee chaired by Energy and Water Ministry director-general Shaul Zemach is now in the process of determining exactly how much of Israel’s newfound gas reserves will be available for export, and exactly how much should remain at home.