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Environmentalists protest over planned Israeli offshore gas plant

03 September 2018

Thousands of people attended a rally in Tel Aviv on September 1 to oppose plans for a gas processing facility to be built 10 kilometres from the Israeli coast. Environmentalists, local authorities and NGOs are waging a campaign to have the platform moved 125 kilometres off the coast, citing environmental and public health concerns.

Stock image
Stock image

The protesters say the platform, to be located off Dor Beach near Caesarea, could cause major air pollution, and a malfunction at the site could leak toxic byproducts, harming beaches, marine life and residents living near the coast south of Haifa.

The platform is planned to process gas from the Leviathan offshore field which is estimated to hold 22 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, making it the country’s richest gas find.  After extraction, raw natural gas must be processed to separate the dry gas used by power plants to run their turbines from two other main components — condensate (or wet gas) and waste water, both of which contain carcinogenic by-products.

The Energy Ministry said the close-to-shore platform was chosen after many tests, an environmental impact assessment and the considerations of the security establishment.
According to the Times of Israel, activists have pointed to a processing plant for the Tamar gas field, located 14 kilometers off the coast of Ashkelon, as a harbinger of what the new platform may bring.

Data for 2016, published by the ministry in November 2017, shows that emissions from Tamar that are known or suspected to be carcinogenic equalled the total of such emissions from 570 large industrial plants across the country.

Activists have been holding near daily protests to draw attention to the cause, but the plan may be too far advanced to be reversed. Built in the United States, the processing platform is due to arrive off-shore in December, and its legs are to be lowered into the sea the following month 9.7 kilometres off the coast.

Haaretz quoted a statement from the Leviathan partners saying experts agreed the rig would not pollute the air or water, and that gas from the field would replace polluting coal.

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