Historic launch of Israeli gas field met with pollution monitoring malfunctions

The Ministry of Environmental Protection’s app for monitoring pollution levels crashed, says Globes.

By World Israel News Staff 

A series of malfunctions took place on Tuesday morning as Noble Energy began operations of the Leviathan natural gas field off the Israeli coast, reports Globes.

Minutes before the American oil and natural gas exploration and production company began the flushing process to allow for the extraction of gas, the Ministry of Environmental Protection’s app for monitoring pollution levels crashed, says the Israeli business news outlet. As a result, real time pollution levels were not relayed.

In response, the ministry announced that the public could monitor pollution levels through a couple of different websites. However, many people trying to enter those sites reported that they could not access the information due to an apparent overload as large numbers of concerned residents wanted to check if the pollution levels from the Leviathan were excessive, said Globes.

The Ministry of Environmental Protection said that tens of thousands of people were trying to access the sites, causing the malfunctions.

The flushing process began after the ministry announced on Monday that all conditions had been met to allow for the launch of operations.

Exactly a week earlier, it had issued a statement delaying the move on the grounds that conditions had not yet been met. The Jerusalem Post reported at the time that a sampling and monitoring program had not been approved.

The production platform is located 10 kilometers (six miles) off the Israeli shoreline.

Proponents of the Leviathan project say that it represents a historic turnaround for Israel from an oil-barren country to an oil exporter. Noble Energy and Israel’s Delek Drilling have signed multi-billion dollar export deals with Egypt and Jordan, giving diplomatic as well as economic significance to the project.

Nobel Energy also predicted a 4 percent drop in electricity rates to the Israeli consumer, reports Globes.

However, environmental activists along with leaders and some residents of Israeli localities situated closest to the gas field have been working to stop the project, warning of a health hazard.

Activists mobilized for a demonstration in Tel Aviv on Tuesday to protest the launch of the Leviathan operations.

Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said that the opponents of the project were showing “extraneous panic.”

He said that thousands of oil rigs in similar conditions operate in the U.S. and Europe without causing any environmental problems.