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Review

2,000 site closure by end 2000 (1998). Petroleum


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(b) strict enforcement of environmental standards required by law. This step


may lead to a massive reduction in the number of such stations, many of which
are operating through inertia and with no justification, and are severely
endangering their environment; (c) applying the regulations of National Master
Plan 18 to internal stations; (d) regulating the operation of gas stations on
military bases.
5. Recognition of these fuels as hazardous materials will enable more efficient
control of pollutants.
6. Enforcing the law against pirate stations.
7. Fuel quality control can help minimize air pollution caused by vehicular
emissions. The more dispersed the stations the more difficult and less efficient
the control.
8. Removal of water and soil nuisances and rehabilitation of sites damaged
by them by the polluting agent.

for open spaces in the National and Regional Master Plans should also be
updated, with clear directions preventing the construction of gas stations
in such areas.

In high-demand areas, the possibility of enlarging existing stations must


be examined instead of the construction of new stations.

Defining "saturated" roads or roads passing through areas of high natural


and landscape assets, in order to prevent the construction of new stations.

Minimizing landscape disturbance in cases where it is necessary to construct


a new station in an open space.

2. Canceling the authority of local commissions to approve the construction


of gas stations on agricultural land.
3. Preventing the construction of new stations in hydrologically sensitive
areas. Granting a right of veto to the Israel Hydrological Service to reject
plans for new stations in such areas.
4. Limited land use of the Gas station. Approval of such uses should be given
only according to specifications in National Master Plan 18.
5. Enforcement of National Master Plan 18 regulations on internal stations.
6. Prohibition of fuel sale to stations not adhering to the new regulations.

Operation of existing stations


1. Conducting a detailed survey of the state of all existing stations and their
potential hazards.
2. Full adherence to the regulations for prevention of groundwater pollution
by fuels.
3. Cessation of use of old tanks (over 15-20 years of age). Thus, a system of
"young" tanks with a minimum amount of leakage will be maintained.
4. Making an immediate effort to deal systematically with internal stations:
Bringing environmental standards of these stations to a par with those of public
stations: (a) collection of information and mapping of all internal stations;
ix

radius from water drilling areas. Yet it must be emphasized that the water for these
drillings comes from an aquifer into which water is drained from a much broader
area than the security radius.

Prevention of groundwater pollution by fuel. The law is only partially and


insufficiently enforced in public stations, while in internal stations there is complete
anarchy. Internal stations are of little public value. It is estimated that their number
is twice that of public stations, while they provide 5% of all the fuel consumed
annually and the environmental price paid for them is very high. These stations do
not adhere to environmental standards, mostly for lack of enforcement, and some
of them sell fuel illegally on a commercial basis. Pirate stations are of course a
systematic and blatant transgression, and pose both an environmental and a safety
hazard. There has been a recent upsurge in controlling these stations, but much
more must be done to ensure that they operate legally and according to regulations
and standards.

Recommendations
Construction of new stations
1. Formulation of a planning policy for the construction of gas stations. This
must be done on two levels: (a) General guidelines for environmental and
landscape considerations that must be taken into account in planning a new
station (similar to the guidelines in Master Plan 18). These may be anchored
in Outline Plan 18, or in a guidance document of the Planning Authority, (b) A
local policy about desirable (and undesirable) locations for new stations in the
various districts of the country, according to landscape and hydrological
sensitivity as well as the saturation of existing stations and a forecast of future
needs. We propose anchoring this policy in the District Master Plans.
The policy principles will include:

Avoidance of the construction of gas stations in open areas, and clear


preference to stations in or at the edge of built-up areas. Planning directions

viii

An analysis of the data collected in examining the impermeability of fuel tanks


over 15 years old shows some worrying findings: (1) only a partial examination of
these tanks was made, as the fuel companies did not complete the requirements
demanded of them; (2) 35-39% of the tanks examined cannot be considered
impermeable; (3) the fuel companies delay implementation of the regulations,
even in known cases of leakage from fuel tanks into groundwater that require
immediate attention!
The situation is even more severe in internal stations, because of the complete
lack of impermeability control in thousands of such stations in moshavim,
kibbutzim, military camps and factories. There is, of course, no control at all of
pirate stations. Not a single fuel tank in an internal station has been closed down
to date, although the neglect and pollution aboveground in some of these stations
testify to the neglect underground. Some of these stations do not conduct assets
and liabilities balances, from which one may deduce if the missing fuel was sold
or leaked into the ground and the groundwater.

Conclusions
The main conclusion from the study is that the policy of encouraging competition
in the fuel economy and changing the law has caused a situation that enhances the
construction of new stations. No control system has been developed in parallel
that would enable the authorities to prevent the construction of excess stations and
incursion into open spaces, as well as to minimize the environmental hazards of
the operation of existing gas stations.
The authorities have no clear or binding planning policy (such as anchoring in
approved plans) for the approval or rejection of plans for new Gas stations on the
basis of environmental considerations. In discussing plans for new stations, the
authorities are not required to consider the saturation or density of existing stations
or forecast future fuel demand based on estimated traffic volumes.

Environmental considerations in the approval of plans for new fuel stations.


The guiding approach is to minimize damage rather than prevent it. Planning bodies
do not pay sufficient attention to hydrologically sensitive areas except for a security
vii

have been rejected . Along Road No. 40 there are 18 stations and plans for the
construction of 23 more; seven of these have been rejected to date.

Internal stations. In the Hanadiv Valley area, including Hof Hacarmel, there are
30 licensed internal stations; and on Road No. 40 area there are 25 such stations.
These are inefficiently distributed, sometimes in astonishing proximity to each
other. Some are badly neglected; some store fuel in quite large quantities.

Gas stations - environmental aspects


Every gas station in a rural or open area is a potential focus for environmental
damage. The main problems entailed in the construction and operation of gas
stations are that they: (1) threaten water, soil, and air quality; (2) are an incursion
into open spaces as a result of new foci of development and the attraction of
additional uses; (3) harm the landscape by increasing foci of development at the
expense of natural assets of the area.
The main threat to environmental quality is the danger to groundwater as a result
of leaks from underground fuel tanks. Fuel contains toxic substances, some of
them cancerous (e.g. benzene and ethyl benzene). Fuel pollution is long-term, and
groundwater sources thus polluted cannot be used again without an enormous
investment.
Some severe cases of fuel pollution of groundwater have been discovered. In a
gas station near Binyamina, a 70cm. fuel layer was found above the groundwater,
at the site of old fuel tanks. This example represents an unknown number of other
cases, which are very difficult to identify.
Water Regulations - Prevention of Water Pollution by gas Stations (1997)
serves as the main legal framework for the prevention of pollution. The regulations
delineate standards for fuelling installations, monitoring, rehabilitation in cases of
leaks, etc. The regulations require companies to submit to the Ministry of the
Environment data about the impermeability of their underground fuel tanks. Only
now, three years after the formulation of these regulations, a first examination of
such data is being completed.
vi

The Committee for the Conservation of Agricultural Land and Open Spaces
is a national planning institution, handling all plans for the change of assignment
of land from agricultural to other uses. An examination of all the plans for the
construction of gas stations discussed by this committee in the years 1997-2000
shows a rise in both the number of plans submitted and those approved, while the
number of plans not requiring approval dropped.

Plans for gas stations on agricultural land under the authority of a local
commission. The granting of such authority has greatly encouraged the number
of plans for gas stations in open spaces presented for approval It also merited
criticism by Justice Yitzhak Engelhard in his ruling on the appeal for the
construction of a gas station in Hanadiv Valley.

The Israel Lands Authority fulfills an important role in the spatial distribution
of gas stations; yet it has no formulated policy about the desirable distribution of
such stations.

Fuelling habits and standards for locating Gas stations in other countries. We
found that most drivers fill their tanks close to their places of residence, or at the
starting point of a long journey. Most cases of drivers stranded without fuel are
caused by negligence, occurring in areas with a high frequency of gas stations.
Preferred areas for locating gas stations from the point of view of safety are those
where traffic is restrained, such as the edges of built-up areas. It is also advantageous
to incorporate a station into an area providing additional services.

Case studies
Case studies were conducted in two areas - Hanadiv Valley and on Road No. 40
between Hadera and Petah Tiqwa. In both areas information was gathered about
the number of public stations, both operational and planned, and the number of
internal stations. In the Hanadiv Valley area - a rural, sparsely populated area
including many natural and landscape assets - 20 operational stations were found,
as well as plans at various stages for another 50(!) public stations, 25 of which

pirate stations. Such information is vital for monitoring and enforcing environmental regulations and for determining the need for additional stations. It is
estimated that the number of these stations is 1.5-2.0 times that of public stations,
i.e. about 1,200-1,500 gas stations; some estimates run as high as 10,000 sales
points.

Planning and legal realities for the construction of gas stations


The National Master Plan for Gas Stations, National Master Plan 18, does not
include environmental-landscape criteria for the spatial distribution and location
of these facilities. At the same time, traffic and safety aspects - important in their
own right - are clearly defined as policy within the policy framework.
Nor does the Combined National Master Plan 31, take up this challenge. It chooses
to handle individual plans by adjusting them technically to the requirements
specified in National Master Plan 18, which does not include landscape policy.
The legal interpretation of the National Master Plan, as seen in the court decision
on the construction of a Gas station in Hanadiv Valley, broadened the scope of
restrictions derived from the Plan. '

Policy documents. The policy of the Planning Authority of the Ministry of the
Interior disallows the construction of commercial centers in open spaces, including
gas stations. The Haifa District Planning and Building Commission also formulated
a clear policy for the spatial distribution of gas stations. These documents are not
statutory, and their application is therefore partial.
District Master Plans show some consideration for the optimal spatial distribution
of gas stations, with the most clearly formulated policy found in the forthcoming
District Master Plan 6 (Haifa). This plan aims to limit the environmental damage
to open spaces caused by uncontrolled construction of gas stations, and defines
sensitive areas in which their construction is prohibited.
Other district outline plans refer only indirectly to forbidding the construction of
gas stations in highly sensitive areas. District Master Plan 2/9 (Northern District)
views gas stations as part of touristic development, and District Master Plan 3/21
(Central District) views them as permissible in open rural spaces.
iv

Abstract
This study deals with the construction and operation of gas stations in open spaces
and rural areas in Israel, and proposes recommendations for policies and actions
to prevent - or at least minimize - the environmental hazards of such facilities.
Three main types of filling stations sell motor fuel for private use: public gas
stations - licensed commercial stations; licensed internal stations - supposed to
sell fuel on a non-commercial basis to a specified public, such as kibbutzim and
moshavim; and "pirate stations" - illegal sales points for fuel.

Gas stations in Israel - current state


Almost 800 public gas stations operate today in Israel. Their number has greatly
increased in the past few years, at a higher rate than the growth in number of
vehicles and estimated mileage - measures for the demand for fuel. This growth
came about largely as a result of reforms in the fuel economy. These reforms are
viewed by professional circles as incomplete, and have resulted in the construction
of unnecessary filling stations, from the planning-environmental perspective.
The density of gas stations in Israel and the average sales per station are not lower
than those in European countries. Recent years, however, have seen opposing
trends occurring in Europe and Israel: while in Europe the number of stations is
declining, partly because of stringent environmental regulations, in Israel their
number is growing rapidly, and additional stations are being planned.
Moreover, the findings of the present study show that no official body in Israel
has comprehensive information about the number and location of internal or
iii

The
The

Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studie


Center for Environmental Policy
Research Series No. 6

Planning Gas Stations and Commercial Centers


in Rural Areas and Open Spaces
Position Paper
Iris Han
Society for the P r o t e c t i o n of Nature

in

Israel

This book was made possible by funds granted by the Charles H. Revson
Foundation.
The statements made and the views expressed are solely the responsibility
of the author.

ISSN 033-8681

2002, The Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies


The Hay Elyachar House
20 Radak St., 92186 Jerusalem

The Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies


The Center for Environmental Policy
Established by the Charles H. Revson Foundation

P l a n n i n g Gas Stations
Centers i n R u r a l Areas

and C o m m e r c i a l
and Open
Spaces

Position

Paper

Iris Han
Society

for the Protection

of N a t u r e in I s r a e l

2002

The Center for Environmental Policy


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