Despite fierce objections by the public, Ashdod's Town Building Committee has approved the enlargement of a controversial gas station now being built in the center of the city, reports www.mynet.co.il. The committee, headed by Mayor Yehiel Lasri, has decided to allow the station to increase the number of fuel pumps from the current four to 10, and residents say their health and safety is at risk. According to the report, residents rallied two weeks ago against the plans to expand the station, which is being built next to the central bus station mall, and within three hours collected 500 signatures on a petition against the move, to no avail. In the wake of the committee's decision, a petition organizer said residents were "disappointed by the captains of the city, who do not place the resident in the center of the public interest." The report said that residents also protested against the plans at a public forum on environmental quality. A residents' representative at the forum said that when the station was first approved in its original size last year, worried residents were told that it would be small and automatically operated, and would not pose any kind of nuisance to them. But he said the plans were now being expanded without concern for residents' fears and without any kind of environmental impact survey. The representative said that he and opposition councilors had tried to tell the committee that the existence of the station was "a fatal mistake that is likely to present a health, transport and safety hazard in the city," but to no avail. No response was reported from the city.