Construction of a second natural gas terminal in central Israel will not be completed before 2016, Gideon Lerman, who heads the government team for the project, said today. Hefer Valley residents today launched their campaign against the terminal ahead of the National Planning and Building Commission meeting on the matter on November 12.
The National Planning Commission will discuss the environmental impact study on the proposed sites for the terminals, and is due to approve them and send them to the regional planning commissions for comment. Under the revised timetable for National Outline Plan 37I Natural Gas Terminals, the plan will only reach the cabinet for approval in June 2014, a year behind schedule.
The Lerman team recommends building natural gas terminals adjacent to the Meretz Sewage Treatment Plant in the Hefer Valley, 11 kilometers inland, and adjacent to the Hagit Power Station near Yokne'am, 16 kilometers inland. Each terminal will cover 130 dunam (24.25 acres) on 200-dunam (50 acre) sites to provide safety margins.
At Hefer Valley, residents' nearest homes will be 1,300 meters from the terminal's fence, and at Yokne'am, the nearest homes will 1,100 meters distance. However, Lerman says that local communities will face no danger from the terminals and that all the hazards have been considered under the safety margins. He adds that the Ministry of Environmental Protection has handled the problem of the removal of hazardous materials from the terminals.
As for claims by Hefer Valley residents that Delek Group Ltd. (TASE: DLEKG), controlled by Yitzhak Tshuva, dictated the terminals' location, Lerman said that he was hired by the government and that he has never spoken with Tshuva about the terminals.
The government asked the gas exploration companies to build the terminals, but in June 2010, the National Planning Commission rejected their proposal for a terminal at Dor Beach, and ruled that the government should deal with the matter. It is estimated that had the terminals been built as originally scheduled, this would have saved the economy billions of shekels, because natural gas from Tamar was due to begin flowing in 2012. Besides the delay in gas flows until 2013, the Tamar licensees were allowed to lay a smaller pipeline than the one planned for the Dor Beach terminal, resulting in continuing natural gas shortages through 2015 and until the start of gas flow from Leviathan in 2017.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on November 3, 2013
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