The much awaited construction project of an alternative location for the ammonia depository currently held in the Haifa Bay industrial zone in tangled in government bureaucracy, Yedioth Ahronot has learned.
The Environmental Protection Ministry and the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry are at odds over who will pay for the NIS 30 million (roughly $8 million) project and there for cannot agree on a contractor.
The ammonia depository is considered a high-risk facility for environmental and security reasons alike; as an operational malfunction, earthquake or a potential Hezbollah missile strike may spark a leak of the highly toxic gas – and a subsequent mass disaster.
The depository has been the focus of many state comptroller reports, public demonstrations and environmental studies, all leveling harsh criticism at the government's impotence in the matte.
The Environmental Protection Ministry has determined that the depository must be moved and has found a suitable location for it in southern Israel. The plan to move the tank was set in motion in March 2012, and both ministries issued tenders to that effect, but despite having three leading offers to head the project, it is stuck.
The decision on a contractor is being held up over a disagreement between the two ministries over who will carry the lion-share of the project's funding – despite the fact that at least one of the offers states that the contractor is willing to waive government funding.
However, the dispute over which ministry will provide whatever funding may be needed has the tender tangled up in red tape.
"We’re willing to go ahead with the project on our own, without any government funding," one of the bidding contractors told the paper. "It's a shame it's being held up for nothing."
The Environmental Protection Ministry ordered that the ammonia depository in Haifa be decommissioned no later than 2017.
The Zalul environmental group said that "The fact that the ministers prefer to bicker instead of making the removal of the ammonia tank, which is risking thousands of lives, their first priority, is outrageous."
The Environmental Protection Ministry said that "We are not the alternative to the (government's) investment center. We have agreed to appeal to the Treasury for funding for the contractor. The tender is in its final stages with the interministerial committee."