Gov’t Oversight on Gas Found Almost Nil

YERUSHALAYIM -

The gas explosion that killed three people and left another in critical condition on Sunday has brought to light a shocking supervisory vacuum on the use of cooking gas in Israel.

Energy Ministry officials admitted in a special session of the Knesset Economic Affairs Committee Wednesday that they have a mere six inspectors and three investigators.

Committee Chairman Avishai Braverman declared that this meant oversight was virtually nil, since six inspectors cannot possibly cover an entire country. He also pointed out that according to the Comptroller’s report there are supposed to be 21 inspectors.

However, Chen Ben Yosef, director general of the fuel division of the Energy Ministry, stressed that all the gas technicians operating in the country are certified through a training and testing program and are overseen by the Ministry of Economics and Planning.

Ben Yosef explained the shortage of inspectors is largely due to the fact that the government cannot compete with salaries offered by private industry, which are 70 percent higher than what the government can pay.

Braverman noted that Supergas, the company responsible for the gas installation in the recent explosion, did not send a representative to the committee.

Merkaz HaGaz director Yoram Tamir told the committee that the gas companies don’t enforce regulations.

The assistant engineering chief of PazGaz, Ilan Miron, was critical of the certification process. He said the government needs to administer tests with more stringency.